Charles Clarke: Developing skilled knowledge workers – The role of international collaboration

Globalisation is the unavoidable reality of the modern world.

People move and migrate.

Technologies, techniques and production methods are transferred across the planet in an instant. Economies are becoming less and less closed, more and more part of the international trading system.

There are fewer and fewer national scientific secrets. Scientific knowledge is almost universally available. Events in one corner of world become constant news in every part of the world.

Big social changes in one country, ranging from banning smoking in public places to formalising civil partnerships and a wide range of extensions of human rights, move from country to country in what, historically speaking, is the flash of an eyelid.

This enormous pace of change places immense pressures on societies, economies, all types of organisation in both the public and private sectors and, of course, upon individuals. Yesterday’s certainties become tomorrow’s instability.

The only means of mastering, and benefiting from, this unpredictable process of dramatic change is through education and understanding the world in which we live.

That makes international collaboration the essential component of modern education and acquisition of skills.

As jobs increasingly become internationally competitive the people seeking those jobs will need to comprehend the international climate within which those jobs exist more than ever before.

Employers will increasingly seek evidence that their potential employees possess the skills and understanding to participate fully in this evolving modern world and, though their understanding, contribute solutions to it.

They will look less and less to narrow technical skills and capacities and more and more to broader ability to change, operate flexibly and consider different ways of doing things, all on the foundation of a solid core of knowledge and experience.

These are the fields where international collaboration has most to offer.

There are a wide variety of forms of collaboration. Educational institutions, such as universities and colleges, can evolve joint curriculums and assessment so that students can share their time of study between two, or even more, countries.

Alternatively, or in addition, students can spend semesters, vacations, or periods before or after university or college, visiting other countries but not as a tourist but to study or work in another environment.

The very rapidly developing different forms of online learning offer a range of different models of international collaboration in which students in different countries can study the same subject together, but from different countries and different backgrounds – an exchange which is itself enriching.

And of course international collaboration will increasingly lead to shared assessment and qualification systems allowing graduates from one country to work across the world, but only on the basis of shared high quality standards.

Any audit of the extent to which governments, employers, universities and colleges are responding to these challenges would be bound to conclude that, though there are some bright hopes and some encouraging examples, an enormous amount still has to be done. INTO University Partnerships is strongly committed to building on what it has already achieved in this field to encourage further progress.

The world still lacks the systems of international collaboration which will properly underpin the development of global skills and competences.

My hope is that this Going Global event in Dubai will further stimulate substantive discussion of the ways in which the challenges of the future can be met in the most effective way.

You can follow Charles Clarke and INTO’s other delegates at this year’s Going Global in Dubai via

Charles Clarke

Author: Charles Clarke

Charles was Education Secretary and Home Secretary under the previous UK government. Since leaving the House of Commons, he has become a Visiting Professor in Politics at the University of East Anglia and a Visiting Professor in Politics and Faith at Lancaster University. Charles is a Special Advisor at INTO.

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