Education in the 21st century could be characterized in three words: technology, practicality, and international mobility.
The "technological revolution" leaves an enormous mark on the field of education. Access to information and therefore education have transformed in the recent years - young people nowadays use laptops, tablets, smartphones or eReaders for studying, and are permanently connected to the Internet "browsing" online publications, virtual encyclopedias and blogs full of new information.
The classic textbook is used less and less. For example, South Korea aims to dispense with printed school material already by 2015. Digital information outweighs the preference to other information sources, hence the topic of eLearning is increasingly discussed. There are new proposals regarding the topic, although doing a simple quantitative analysis we can already see that eLearning programs are specifically designed for training of professionals and coaching within companies, but are much less suitable for education for now.
Teachers understand the importance of adapting the current profile of their students to the practical requirements of the labor market. Classically in education students are examined, however there is a trend to increasingly record their activities on the Web, especially on platforms where their contributions are carefully considered by their teacher.
Technology and "globalization of the labor market" increasingly emphasizes the importance of practical training. The educational model practiced in Germany is a great example for other European countries. It is a model with emphasis on getting practical experience next to education at big corporations such as Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz for example takes up to 2,000 apprentices annually, of which the majority is taken on to work in the company after the apprenticeship.
Radu Gologan, coach of the Romanian Olympic National mathematics, recently mentioned the American orientation to “decode” knowledge exposed young people – meaning that those with a more practical education, based on less information, have a better basis. "This has got to be the aim for excellence, especially for a sufficient skills base for functioning in this society."
Large international companies, or corporations, also have an important role in education. "The private sector must be involved. Is a social responsibility," Viviane Reding emphasizes since 2002, when she was the Commissioner of Education. With a new initiative, the EU aims to develop non-European dimension of education anticipating many graduates within the framework of global economic growth.
An important initiative taken by the EU was the "Bologna Process", an attempt to harmonize national education systems by allowing mobility. It was therefore necessary to involve the EU institutions, also financially, in order to launch mobility programs for students and teachers. This increased mobility has enabled new guidelines on which the institutions propose variations, like "Erasmus for all", "Social Erasmus", "Erasmus Plus", etc. Although the Erasmus budget was increased, the requests for funding still exceed it.
One of the main objectives of the Lisbon Strategy was "lifelong learning" in order to achieve growth and jobs. This involves improving the skill sets of young graduates, both at work and through programs, so that they manage to accumulate enough experience that is required and necessary in everyday work. In this context, Summer Universities are another form of training that provided a suitable option for many students in recent years.
Theory gained from years of academic training must be completed by engaging in "extra-curricular" activities, including volunteering and internships, to develop "soft-skills". There are many young people who understand that student organizations, NGOs, political parties and trade unions are ways for them to develop and consolidate knowledge in their advantage.
Recent years have introduced new terms in human resources, like "e-skills" or "light technical skills". These are requirements that can not be missing from almost any CV nowadays. From the doorman to the CEO, all employees come across systems with software, which is becoming “smarter” every day. As new technologies have changed the privacy of everyone, the impact on any professional environmental is undeniable.
An element currently required by many employers is multitasking, which means that one has to be able to rapidly change their focus between numerous activities. In a dynamic world you cannot exist unless you show flexibility, even when it comes to career guidance.
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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