Factors related to the advancement of technology, professional training, and the emergence of new workflows in the emerging world have placed new demands on students to build skills that will set them apart in the workforce.
In this article, we explore what new connections digital learning experiences like The Global Tech Experience are making to prepare students for the new work world. This series will appeal to education abroad professionals who are especially eager to explore entrepreneurial strategies and savvy approaches to maximizing student learning and engagement in a new era.
For quite some time, faculty, career advisors, and employers have reported seeing a widening gap between learned skills and the demands of modern work as students prepare to enter increasingly complex and demanding careers. Every time we turn around, there seem to be new approaches to communication, new ways of working, and new software to manage workflow.
And when we add the COVID shift on top of the growing expectations, that gap gets deeper. Across industries and businesses, new expectations about working from home and digital communication have galvanized the skills gap our students faced back in 2020.¹ In a survey of HR professionals, 84% acknowledged increased digital skill needs in the workforce, and 61% said that they needed to shift quickly to train current employees in communication and digital skills as a result of the pandemic.²
Today’s workforce requires advanced tech and communication skills that will provide a foundation for their professional digital identity in the emerging work world.
But what do these skills mean for university staff and faculty who are looking for next-generation pedagogies to build students’ 2020s career skills? What new strategies can be employed to innovate student learning to meet the demands of new approaches to work?
One strategy is The Global Tech Experience, which provides clear and purposeful approaches for developing students’ digital identities. Podium Education’s Global Tech Tracks provide real-world experience utilizing case studies from global companies. Students learn the tech and intercultural skills critical for employment in today’s dynamic workforce. By boosting students’ digital literacy, The Global Tech Experience provides an ideal foundation on which students can launch their careers today.
As we focus renewed attention on student learning and career readiness, we begin to build an interesting scaffold on which to build innovative approaches to global learning programming.
The modern workplace is a digital space. Emailing, chat, voice and video comprised 80% of the average workday during 2020, according to a report published by the Prodoscore Research Council.³ Back in 2004, Byron Hawk noticed a shift toward digital work and suggested that our students must learn how to navigate new technology uses, developing digital professional identities that contribute to collaboration, innovation, and workplace culture.⁴
More than email etiquette and presentation techniques, students’ professional digital identities grow and clarify through their many online interactions with faculty and fellow students in professional spaces.
The Global Tech Experience, for example, nurtures reflection in online collaboration and learning, amplifying students’ abilities to work with world-class companies and other students from around the world.
The Experience intentionally builds students’ growth of their own professional identities in the new work world. Students realize the differences between how they previously used technology up to now and how that will change in their careers.
We realized some amazing things when schools shifted to online learning in March 2020. On the one hand, we saw the hesitation of students and teachers to engage in online learning and delivery. But on the other hand, once we became familiar with the new rhythms and approaches to digital pedagogies, a world opened that expanded what and how we learn.
The Global Tech Experience provides students with the access and opportunity to actually use industry tools, which are otherwise unavailable for affordable, personal use. This allows them to develop comfort with using career-ready technology. The Global Tech Experience platform frames students’ development in an active environment that centers technology skills and habits that will serve them well in their careers, highlighted in Podium Education’s four programs:
Pedagogies that reinforce and build students’ understanding of technology lends ideally to preparing students for lifelong learning and next generation careers.
As the digital work world has grown over the past several decades, employers have demanded more–and more concrete–experiences that point to important soft skills like intercultural empathy and communication. With the move to digital workflows and connections, this skill has become even more important as industries focus much needed energy toward enhancing inclusiveness and diversity.
Created in collaboration with Dr. Darla Deardorff, Executive Director of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) and Research Scholar at Duke University, The Global Tech Experience includes a strategically designed intercultural competency teaching framework that includes interactive case-studies and role-play practice opportunities. These real-world scenarios give students the opportunity to reflect on their own intercultural identities, assumptions, and behaviors and practice navigating the complex diversity of people and perspectives in the world of work. The Global Tech Experience provides a kind of laboratory - denoted as LiveLab - for students to practice intercultural communication skills both socially with their diverse classmates from around the world and professionally in their engagement with world-class companies.
And these intercultural experiences are significant–The Global Tech Experience currently enrolls students from over 41 different countries around the world.
In summary, the scaffolding that programs like The Global Tech Experience provide reinforce and support students with developing the skills – technology, intercultural empathy, and communication – that will help them bridge that gap that has emerged in the workforce. And given the meaningful connections between career skills and intercultural learning, The Experience provides an innovative modality with which to prepare students for the future ahead.
¹ Zvi Guterman. (2022) Fixing The Digital Skills Gap In The Post-Covid-19 Workplace (forbes.com)
³ Nadine Malek (2020) Data Reveals Shifting Work Patterns, Productivity Gains | Press Release (prodoscore.com)
⁴ Byron Hawk (2004) Toward a post techne—Or, inventing pedagogies for professional writing. Technical Communication Quarterly, 13, 371-392.