Why a university education is more important in 2007
Prem Tinsulanonda International School Chiang Mai
We are living in a global economy where manufacturing can be located in any
country. As a result, factories are often moved offshore from the developed
countries (e.g. USA/UK) to countries with a low cost/tax structure and cheap
labour. When the factories go, the jobs and subsidiary industries go also.
What manufacturing remains in the developed country is automated high tech
and high quality. The employees of these new factories must have a high
level of knowledge and skill and preferably be university graduates. I
recently saw a woollen mill in Australia that resembled a laboratory where
automated machines were monitored by computer technicians dressed in white
coats. The few employees there were highly paid and highly skilled with a
strong knowledge base.
This trend in industry is mirrored in business and service industries all
leading to a high demand for skilled labour. The figures I have from the UK
predict that by the year 2012, 50% of the available jobs will require a
university degree as an application criteria. A university degree in 2007 is
even more important for future employment than a university degree at any
other time in our history.
Modern economies are becoming “Knowledge Based Economies”. The high income
and profit is not in primary production or even in manufacturing but in the
designing, advertising and servicing of a product. If you look at an MP3
player it is a good example of a modern product. Who makes most the money
out of it? The worker who puts it together? The retailer who sells it? No it
is clearly the designer, the technology innovators and the company that
employs these people and comes up with the best product that can reap
millions of dollars from an MP3 player. This is what is meant by a knowledge
based product and a knowledge based economy is built around such products.
In this economy and production system there is little place for the
uneducated at any stage of the process other than the simplistic
manufacturing, which is therefore done offshore.
School leavers are therefore entering a new era of university training.
Universities are responding to the challenge of a knowledge based economy by
hugely increasing their numbers and courses. In the last 12 years in the UK
student numbers at university have risen 94%. Universities in all their
faculties have embraced internships as a way of giving their graduates
practical training before conferring a degree. The high cost of education
has meant that universities are now more “customer conscious”. Students want
value for money and the universities have responded with a flexibility never
seen before in education. Students can study on-line, at home while minding
young children, on campus part time, can do any number of double majors, can
transfer from one campus to another and can take a year off when they want.
These are but a few of the changes which make universities different from
what the older generation remembers. The typical student is changing from a
fresh faced 18-year-old to someone who is working part time or a single
mother or a middle aged person changing career paths. As life long learning
is now a fundamental of knowledge based economy everybody in the workforce
is studying and many formally at university.
Can the modern based economies meet their targets for the future and produce
enough educated people to run their economies? The answer at this stage
appears to be NO!
All the data suggest they will fall far short of the targets and will
require a huge influx of graduates from overseas. For a Thai student,
educated in English and graduated from a good university, this means their
chances of getting a highly paid job overseas will continue to improve. Also
as Thailand moves to a developed economy there will be many more local
opportunities as well.
The scene is set for the next decade. A university degree has never been
more relevant or more important and will increasingly be the accepted
minimum requirement for employment in knowledge based economies.
Classrooms don’t have walls for us
Middle School students
traveled to Luang Prabang, increasing their understanding of the history,
geography and sociology of Laos.
Students from American Pacific International School spent much of last week
outside the classroom. High School students were either involved in
community service activities at school or in Jantaburi, where they helped a
local school, or were learning about crafts and the environment and
developing new skills nearer home at Mae Chaem.
12 students were involved in community service activities in Jantaburi,
where they helped a local school.
Most Middle School students traveled to Luang Prabang, increasing their
understanding of the history, geography and sociology of Laos. This is a
focus for their South-East Asian Studies course.
Grades 1 and 2 visited Bangkok and Pattaya finding out more about marine and
aquatic environments. This was a very exciting trip for the seven-year-olds,
many of them spending the night away from home for the first time.
Even the youngest Elementary students spent a night in Lampang, while Grade
3 discovered Sukhothai, Grade 4 learnt more about rural Thailand by visiting
the Maekok River Village Education Center in Tathon where they walked, made
rafts and worked on the organic farm and Grade 4 experienced life in the
rainforest. All of the Elementary class visits were developed as part of
their current Units of Inquiry: central to the Primary Years’ Programme of
the International Baccalaureate which has been introduced from K1-G5.
Students and staff returned to school weary but exhilarated - and clearly
more aware that learning is not just for the classroom.