‘Skill Up for the 21st Century’ – 3 things to learn from the Commonwealth Horizons Autumn Conference 2016

Last week we sponsored 9 of our international students to attend the Commonwealth Horizons: ‘Skills for the 21st Century’ conference in central London. The topics included

• How might education and training systems best respond to the ever-changing needs of the next generation of Commonwealth citizens?

• How might demographic change impact?

• What are the needs of employers?

• What are the aspirations and concerns of young people?

What does that mean for you as an International Student?

Here are three key points we took from the day and a short personal perspective from one of our brilliant students who attended.

1. Having an adaptable career plan:

Technology is having a massive impact on education in the future. The main discussion point was that automated systems will soon be taking more and more high skill level jobs.

A great example of this that was shown to us during the day was IBM’s Ross. Ross is quite literally an artificially intelligent lawyer that law firms are already using on a regular basis!

This talk noted that students and graduates should be making an adaptable but clear career plan

Students and graduates should be making an adaptable but clear career plan. Technology will slowly begin eating up graduate jobs and the rate at which it does will only increase in the future.

So, establish a plan for where you want to be heading after University and then ensure that you remain aware of emerging technology trends and their impact on the workplace. Just saying “make a plan” is of course much easier than actually doing it, so have a look at the links below to get some ideas on just how to put together a career plan:

The Independent Career Planning Category

Target Jobs Career Planning Advice

The Guardian’s Graduate Guide to Career Planning

2. Prepare for life-long learning

The current generation of young people will be operating very differently to the previous generation in terms of our education, skill set and working life.

Previously, a person’s life looked something like the below image:


You go into full time education while young, finish up at a certain level and then work until an age where you can retire (typically in your 60s in the UK). The future of your working life however is shaping up to look very different:


As you can see, the key change here is that education continues as you work.

The workplace will increasingly demand evolving skill sets asking you to keep up with emerging technology and learn entirely new skills for jobs that have never even previously existed.

3. Education for aptitude

Employers are increasingly asking for graduate applicants whose degree is from any field and during the conference we learnt that this is in fact a signal of things to come.

Employers are looking for talented graduates whose degree proves that not only are they a degree-level expert in a specific field but that their degree shows they have an aptitude for learning. 

Employers are increasingly training their staff themselves and so having employees that have a strong capability for research and learning is in fact ideal. The workplace of the future may demand that you have a high 2:1 or even a first in your degree, but just what that degree is in will be largely irrelevant.

Hopefully what we took away from the conference has been of some use to you as a student or indeed as an aspiring student. For more information about becoming an international student at The University of Portsmouth please head over to our International website.

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!