May 2022: What careers will be in demand in the next 20 years? International schools vs traditional British schools.

Monday May 30th, 2022

Welcome to your May issue. As I write, the bunting is going up in towns and villages across the UK, and eight places are already celebrating their new city status. This is all part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee of course, as we prepare to mark HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.

In this edition we shall look at the British independent schools that are branching out into Asia. There is growing demand for this expansion and we consider the pros and cons of a traditional British education (albeit in your home country) versus an international school (whether at home or abroad).

First though, we explore a recent survey that asked parents how they felt about their children’s career ideas and aspirations. For me, it reiterates just how vital it is that we, as parents, can rely on our schools helping to futureproof our children’s career prospects.

Modern careers and how they are changing for our children

Talking Futures, which carried out the survey of more than 2,000 parents of secondary school pupils in England, found the majority didn’t even recognise the types of jobs their children talked about.

According to Bryony Mathew – neuroscientist, British ambassador and author of Qubits and Quiver Trees: Awesome Careers of the Future – the rapidly changing nature of today’s society makes it almost impossible for parents to identify specific careers for their children.

“Parents can’t possibly teach a child what their niche is in such a fast-moving world; it’s something the young person has to discover themselves,” she says.

She adds that encouraging children to learn wide-ranging disciplines and skills across art, science, computing and coding will help them find or create those niches.

She asserts that children in primary school today will one day take on careers that don’t yet exist. Furthermore, each child won’t have just one career but lots of different careers. This echoes something we talked about in a previous blog; that careers today aren’t necessarily for life the way they might have been in our generation. And that we shouldn’t see that as a bad thing.

In a fast-moving world, having the skills, mindset and confidence to evolve, adapt and move on is crucial. A UK education at a British independent school can set you up for life because these things – confidence, resilience, openness to change – are as much a part of the curriculum as the core, classic subjects.

Before we explore the traditional versus international / home or away debate regarding schools, I’ll leave you with some food for thought… a little taster of some of these futuristic careers, courtesy of the Guardian!

UX designer – someone who creates products or websites based on evidence from research, test results and data analysis (instead of relying purely on aesthetic preference or opinions).

Twitch streamer – the YouTube generation will love this one! A twitch streamer speaks to viewers live on camera whilst playing video games in real time, answering questions from their audience and funded (predominantly) through advertising.

Machine learning engineer – think self-driving cars and digital voice assistants. This strand of AI involves creating complex algorithms from data then programming a machine to perform intricate, complicated tasks.

Asteroid miner – this one is a real job of the future! Extracting and transporting materials to make electronics (e.g. precious metals like gold, silver and platinum) from asteroids and minor planets. Hypothetically, the minerals would be flown back to earth on asteroid bots. Watch this space (pun intended!)

But joking aside, if you need help to navigate the rapidly changing career landscape and the sort of education that can best prepare your children for it – do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

The British schools opening ‘branches’ in Asia

Marlborough College – the alma mater of Britain’s queen-in-waiting, Kate – opened its only overseas campus in the Malaysian city of Iskandar Puteri in 2012. Despite its relative youth, it carries with it the gravitas and heritage of its Wiltshire original dating from 1843.

“The British curriculum is well regarded, particularly in countries with historic ties with the UK such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand,” explains Luke Pais, EY’s Asia Pacific private equity leader.

Extra-curricular opportunities abound too, with Marlborough College Malaysia offering pupils water sports on its own lake, an organic farm, and a golf range. These are features and facilities rarely found in local institutions, and around one pupil in every four is local (i.e. from Malaysia).

One such Kuala Lumpur-based couple, the Khaws, have enrolled their 16-year-old son at Marlborough’s Malaysian off-shoot. His mum, Lyn, benefited from a British independent education herself, travelling from Malaysia to board at Sherborne Girls School in Dorset when she was 15. She’s pleased her son can reap the same benefits, but without being so far from his family home. He’s just a 3.5-hour drive or 50-minute flight away from his parents; she was thousands of miles away from hers.

Dulwich College, founded in London during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, now has 10 schools in Asia – in China, Singapore, South Korea and Myanmar.

Gordonstoun, the Scottish boarding school with a long association with the British royal family, also plans to expand into the region. Its first international school will open in China later this year, and the fact it has “educated three generations of the British Royal family, including the heir to the throne” is likely to be a big attraction for local families, says Gordonstoun’s principal Lisa Kerr. Although the school already welcomes students from southeast Asia to its Moray campus in northeast Scotland, Ms Kerr recognises it’s not a viable option for everyone, something she hopes the expansion will help to address.

Kimkong Heng, a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Center, explains that parents in Cambodia often prefer to send their children to the Asian outposts of leading British public schools if they can afford to. They feel confident their children will learn English and other subjects to a high standard. But, he says, the ideal is to “visit world-famous cities like London and study in world-renowned universities [because]… the standard of education is one thing, but the experience of the culture and language is another”.

It’s obviously true that studying at a southeast Asian ‘branch’ of a top, traditional British school can never quite capture the experience of life and learning at the original historic institutions. But for families like the Khaws, the expansion is a brilliant way to balance the benefits of a top-class education and independent learning with family life, closer to home.

On the flip side, families often ask us about international schools in the UK. These play a crucial role in the educational landscape too, offering excellent teaching and internationally recognised qualifications in a diverse, multicultural environment.

However, in my opinion, if your family or your child is making the commitment to travel thousands of miles to attend a school in the UK, it makes sense to get the very best from all that the traditional independent British schools can offer. The hundreds of years’ heritage and the gravitas associated with these institutions is what really sets them apart from other schools.

In my experience, tradition doesn’t mean outmoded or out of date – far from it. These schools are pioneering ways to prepare their pupils for their career – all aspects of their lives in fact – in our modern, fast-moving, interconnected world. We’ve talked about this in previous blogs: how traditional British independent schools foster a strong work ethic and self-discipline (on the sports pitches and off – see last month’s Oxford-Cambridge boat race for examples of how pupils go on to excel at university too). In addition, how they help create lifelong networks of support and opportunity; and how they recognise the importance of nurturing emotional intelligence alongside academic success.

Thinking back to our careers of the future, it’s these extra-curricular skills, networks, opportunities and ideas that will prepare our children for success in the rapidly evolving world of work. Tradition and heritage give proven results of academic excellence. Embracing new and emerging career ideas will be just as important for the next generation of leaders.

Thank you for reading – until next time.