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EtonX calls for wider life skills teaching to help students prepare for  university studies as the fourth industrial revolution takes hold

11th Gulf Education Conference, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 23-24thFebruary 2020 Learning innovator and Eton college subsidiary EtonX says that educational institutions in the Gulf region need to provide an effective balance of academic and life skills − led by helping young people to develop a critical thinking approach to their studies – if they are to help their students prepare for successful careers, as the fourth industrial revolution fundamentally reshapes the global economy.


The message comes from Ben Hanneford-Smith, Head of Business Development at London-based EtonX, who will tell delegates to the 11th Gulf Education Conference Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 23-24thFebruary, that the rapid globalisation of economies and automation of work tasks is forcing countries’ education systems to give students a more rounded and analytically-minded education through wider 21st century skills instruction, delivered either within the curriculum or through co-curricular programmes.


He emphasises that, as higher education and workplaces move towards more collaborative and project-based learning approaches, employers and universities alike want a far greater emphasis on teaching soft skills − such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and entrepreneurship − to help students adapt and thrive in today’s globalised universities and in their future careers.


The global redefinition of academic study and work is being closely tracked by researchers and industry leaders: The International Labour Organisation estimated in 2019 that 1.4 billion jobs are under threat while 2017 research by management consultants McKinsey Global Institute research suggests that 60 per cent of company bosses think graduates are not adequately prepared for the world of work.


Ben Hanneford-Smith explains: “Employers and academics around the world are concerned by the speed and scale of the changes that the fourth industrial revolution is bringing to workplaces and learning systems – and they are concerned by gaps in the life skills that would help our young people to take advantage of these changes.


“Business leaders and academics alike want to see wider life skills teaching, particularly competencies such as critical thinking, to ensure that today’s students will develop a more questioning outlook and analytical approach towards tasks and situations they are presented with. This combination of incisive thinking skills and resilient character traits is essential to help young people adapt, whether in the case of university entrants accessing new information sources for course work or company recruits who are expected to contribute to work projects from day one.”




Ben Hanneford-Smith will give his talk: ‘More than just good grades: Critical Thinking and key skills for university and life’ on Monday February 24.


Press enquiries: The EtonX team, hello@etonx.com

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