Changing 21st Century Demands on Education

The Pacific Century has introduced newly empowered voices and communities, changing patterns of mobility and migration, dramatic environmental change, disrupted employment models, new and innovative pathways for research and technological growth, new cultures of learning and teaching, and radically new and diverse generations of learners. It has been the harbinger of Industry 4.0.

The first Industrial Revolution, mechanization through water and steam power, led to mass production and assembly lines using electricity in the second, and the embrace of computers and automation in the third. Industry 4.0 is building upon these with smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning. Industry 4.0 assumes disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), all changing the way we live and work. And changing what and how we study.

Throughout history, societies around the world have educated youth to prepare them for success, to reach their full potential as productive members of the economy, and to become responsible, principled citizens. But in the face of this rapid technological, economic, and societal change, and given the evolving nature of employment, educators must better prepare global students for jobs that don't yet exist, in global knowledge and service economies that use technologies not yet envisaged.

Education will lose its path if its only purpose is to prepare workers for the economy. Education can no longer be just about "knowing," but must focus on learning how to learn, on lifelong learning, and developing soft skills such as communication, creative thinking and flexibility, global competence, and the ability to discern, aggregate, and synthesise information in ways we cannot yet imagine. Education must also focus on a well-rounded and value-laden education, covering culture and cultures, language, and a connection to heritage.

The 21st century economy is a global and inter-connected economy and it demands that educators prepare students to engage across borders and cultures in an international context. Every facet of international education will be challenged by the new realities of the 21st century workplace and we invite submissions to reflect these changing demands.