Today’s students will need to be uniquely prepared for a future that perhaps no one could have foreseen. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a substantial changeover, not only in daily life but also in the kinds of skills and mindsets that will be necessary for the future business landscape.
But while other curricula might have to adjust to meet the skill needs of the future workforce, the International Baccalaureate curriculum already introduces these skills to students from an early age. MYP and DP students, in particular, will be well-prepared with the qualifications and skill sets necessary to adapt to the future.
The skills needed for success in the post-COVID landscape – and how the IB teaches them
Two reports from McKinsey and the World Economic Forum agree on several of the skills that will be highly sought-after in the wake of the pandemic. Most of these skills are soft skills, which are skills whose learning and understanding can’t necessarily be measured – in contrast to hard skills in mathematical and scientific fields. Equally, a report by Deloitte Access Economics considers two-thirds of all jobs by 2030 will be made up of soft-skill-intensive occupations, so developing and enhancing these is key.
Creativity, problem-solving, and cognitive thinking
Many businesses suffered greatly during the pandemic, and a large portion of this was an inability to adapt to the new environment. Those that were left behind thrived because they developed creative solutions to staying afloat, whether that meant new and innovative ways of maintaining operations, or establishing efficient guidelines for remote work in a short span of time.
Solving these problems creatively requires the cultivation of a creative mind, one oriented towards solving problems and thinking outside the box. Such a mindset is clearly and explicitly sought-after by the IB, as exemplified in the IB learner profile which calls for students who are, among other things, thinkers, inquirers, and open-minded.
UNESCO defines futures literacy as “the skill that allows people to better understand the role of the future in what they see and do. Being futures literate empowers the imagination, enhances our ability to prepare, recover and invent as changes occur.” Futures literacy is analogous to reading and writing literacy, in that it is a skill that can and should be cultivated in everyone.
Futures literacy is extremely important in a time when the future itself is remarkably uncertain. No one truly knows what the post-COVID landscape will look like, and creating a good hypothetical framework will rely on knowing one’s place in society, how people interact, and how to project for the future.
This form of literacy is well-established in all the IB Programmes Students are taught subjects not only on the basis of textbook learning and rote memorisation, but also in how systems interact, and their place in society. They are also endowed with a sense of responsibility and shared guardianship of the world, which motivates them to work towards a better future away from the pandemic. The IB profile also calls on students to be reflective in order to understand their role in the world, and to be risk-takers who explore innovative solutions to challenges ahead – no doubt critical for life after the pandemic.
IB programs are designed to stimulate young people to be intellectually curious and equip them with the knowledge, conceptual understanding, skills, reflective practices, and attitudes needed to become autonomous lifelong learners. Having a growth mindset and a willingness to learn and embrace new ideas will inevitably be critical key skills for the future.
Adaptability and resilience
Many changes happened in the workplace during the pandemic, and it’s important for people to be able to adapt to these changes and maintain resilience in the face of an uncertain future. Research has shown that IB MYP students exhibit overall improved mental health and resilience, which may prove to be a critical factor in them thriving in the post-pandemic world.
IB Director-General Dr Siva Kumari said of the pandemic: “The people who are going to survive in this world are going to be the ones who can be resilient, agile and disciplined about their own mental capabilities. All those are going to become very important life skills for students who are going to enter a new world soon.” It’s clear that IB students, and MYP / DP students especially, will be very well-equipped for this future!
The pandemic has put a lot of stress on businesses, primarily on the people side of things. That’s why 57% of recruiters believe that interpersonal skills, such as active listening, emotional intelligence, empathy, negotiation, and personnel management are going to be increasingly important in the next five years.
The MYP, and the IB as a whole, purposefully cultivate these interpersonal skills as part of the learner profile. Indeed, IB students are called to be communicators, who use effective listening and collaborative skills to help get things done.
Remote work and digital transformation were major players in the COVID-19 pandemic, and many businesses were forced to rapidly adapt and leverage new technologies in order to succeed. Thriving in a post-COVID world, means thriving in a world that is more tech-driven than ever, and it takes a special kind of adaptability and technical literacy to get that.
The IB has long been aware of the role of technology in society, and has striven to ensure that its students are well-equipped for technology. Whether that’s studying design courses as part of the curriculum, or even having entire eAssessments driven by a digital portfolio and interactive examinations – the IB has long been ahead of the curve in introducing and cultivating a technological mindset in its students.
We look forward to seeing IB students leading the way in professions and careers of the future.