BCG Releases ‘The Future of Education: How Governments Can Help Close the 21st Century Gap’ Report

Press release
Published February 14th, 2018 - 09:24 GMT
Dr. Leila Hoteit, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East
Dr. Leila Hoteit, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), an official Knowledge Partner of the World Government Summit  today released a new collaborative report titled, ‘The Future of Education: How Governments Can Help Close the 21st Century Gap,’ which is dedicated to spur the discussion and explore requirements to address the worrisome skills gap and talent shortage facing the future generation.

The report evaluates the ever-changing dynamicity of innovation and technology in today’s nature of work, however argues that the education curriculum is struggling to keep pace. This is the fundamental facet that creates large skills gap, which directly translates into challenges in occupying work positions that require advanced skills.

“We argue that technology education, one that we define as the teaching of modern technologies and technological skills in the report, requires a significant reform,” said Dr. Leila Hoteit, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East and co-author of the report. “Employers of the future will place a premium on higher-order skills, whereby candidates who are quick and adaptable to the face pace of the digital world will be first on the list. Also, educational institutions must recognize that there will be a large number of jobs that are non-existent today, but will be soon, and preparation for this new world is a key prerogative.”

In setting the context to explore key structural measures in enhancing technology education, BCG references 3 broad pillars of the most important proficiencies for students to thrive in the 21st century:

  • Foundational Literacies, which reflects the core skills of application in everyday task, such as literacy, numeric and scientific literacy
  • Competencies, student learnings that engrains key thinking capabilities to approach complex challenges, such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration
  • Character Qualities, which subscribes to an approach in improving adaptability, initiative and persistence skills in an evolving environment.

Educational Reform

“The dynamic intricacies of the modern economy demand non-routine skills in many industries. We have seen a corresponding increase in the job market, where the requirements of higher-skills order supersedes routine cognitive skills. This is further emphasis on the importance of today’s educational curriculum going beyond the foundational literacy skills for jobs of the future,” said Dr. Hoteit.

The report outlines a base for educational reform, which requires a curriculum that provides students with ample opportunity to acquire and develop essential higher-order skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and perseverance. The fundamental aspect in fostering higher-order skills is the early development of students for experiences that closely mimics encounters in the real life workplace through applied learning or project-based learning; this ensures that students are challenged in varied context to be prepared for future workforce.

Innovation and Technology in the Curriculum

Technology and innovative solutions were explored, in terms of how new tools of the digital future can be utilized in the entire academic curriculum. There are 3 key benefit offered by digital tools for the classroom:

  • Access to personalized education: Digital tools brings a new wave of opportunities to the teaching and learning dynamic. The personalization of education refers to delivering course materials to meet the specific needs of students; this addresses the pace of learning and extent of courses to be learned.
  • Support development of higher-order skills: Digital tools are also embedding higher order skills development such as critical thinking into the digital classroom. A combination of higher order skills contribution with foundational literacy found in online tools builds the foundation to address the skills gap.
  • Facilitate a broader access to education: Digital tools foster broader access to education to mitigate various circumstances, particularly at higher education. Leveraging such technologies offers students a better management of financial burdens associated with education, such as the decision to further pursue education vs. making an income.

Key Government Imperative in Closing the Skills Gap

Governments have the opportunity to support the development of future talents of the workforce and designing the future of education. To help close the skills gap, governments must take action in a few key areas:

  • Invest in teacher’s professional development: Development of educators should place the emphasis on the key proficiencies in student development, but more so is how to effectively leverage technology in classrooms. Use of digital tools by educators should be promoted and encouraged to support teachers in building their ‘teaching toolbox’ with available resources online.
  • Shape the curriculum to promote technology education: The technology education market is highly fragmented with many digital tools offered. Governments can set standards, endorse or rate such digital solutions offered to ensure that digital tools utilized by educational providers are of the highest quality. 

“Addressing the shortage of talent in the future workforce requires the collaboration and investment of governments, policy makers and other key stakeholders in creating a more open, flexible and innovative delivery of a learning approach. Our report in 2016 found that private investment into education technology globally had reached $4.5 billion, whilst the same investment in the Middle East since 2011 amounted to $1 million. This further substantiates the need for open dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sector in enhancing the adoption of technology in today’s education.” concluded Dr. Hoteit.

Background Information

The Boston Consulting Group

BCG began not as another management consulting firm but as a pioneer of bold, new approaches to running a company.

Helping organizations make the changes needed to seize competitive advantage—and to win—has always been BCG’s raison d'être. Since 1963, we have been helping leaders and their organizations build lasting advantage. The independent spirit handed down from Bruce Henderson, BCG's founder—always challenging the status quo—has given the firm the courage to look beyond the obvious to find solutions for more than 50 years.

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