Wei Cheng Chen Senior Consultant
We are experiencing profound changes of the digital age, as technology slowly replaces human roles, big data analysis, artificial intelligence and smart living create new paradigms and dynamics. Yet, education often remains unchanged despite these advancements. Humans will not be able to compete with technology in knowledge in the near future.
During the World Economic Forum 2018, Mr. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, China’s e-commerce giant, shared his concerns regarding today’s education. “If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now, we’re going to be in trouble. The knowledge-based approach of “200 years ago”, would “fail our kids”, who would never be able to compete with machines. Children should be taught “soft skills” like independent thinking, values and team-work”.
“Soft skills” is a simple word to describe a complex system of behaviors and habits. Examples include common sense, empathy, confidence, teamwork, honesty, the ability to see things from different perspectives, the ability to compromise, negotiate and persuade, communicate, network and think critically, etc… and the list goes on. While all the educators know the importance of assisting students in developing these skills, little efforts and results are observed.
Schools should start changing the way they understand and design education. Following are 3 suggestive actions to implement to start redesigning your school:
Reduce Knowledge, focus on Experience
Education should be considered as an experience-based realm rather than knowledge-based. Students are transformed by the university experience during their 3-4 years of studies. However, traditional institutions still believe that students are looking for knowledge at university, thus placing knowledge transfer as the core of the institution. While this is still crucial, educators fail to differentiate the use of knowledge transfer in assisting students to develop the necessary soft skills for the real workplace. Knowledge is an enabler of transformation but start thinking about what type of experience you wish your students to acquire so that they are transformed and thus be more ready for the industry. Transform them through experiencing team work, competition, presentation, activities, negotiation, culture, failure, etc. With the digital advancement, one can think of introducing Virtual Reality (VR) in classroom environments where students can experience a scenario and develop the necessary soft skills. Example of having a conflict where a customer complaints about a certain situation and the students need to propose a solution.
Change the Mindset of the Faculty
Doubtless, faculty plays a key role in educational institutions but the challenge is that most faculty misinterpret their role, especially in today’s world. Knowledge transfer should be considered as something from the past as we can obtain information by googling today. Classrooms must be used to create experience for the students, using knowledge as a conductor rather than the ultimate goal. Therefore, faculty should become knowledge facilitators and experience engineers, assisting students in analyzing and interpreting information, inspiring them, rising their curiosity as well as staging the right learning experience during their studies. For this, it is necessary to equip your faculty with the right tools thus training your faculty with the new mindset of knowledge facilitation is essential, such as the Lausanne Qualified Learning Facilitator’s programme.
Listen to the Industry
What are the attributes that employers look for when hiring graduates? And why it is necessary for institutions to know? Graduates are the output of an institution and if they are highly wanted by the industry, it is an indication of success. With the advancement in technology, employers are looking for intangible attributes rather than technical know-how of graduates, with customer-centric traits as one of the most common demands. Thus, having close relationship and communication with the industry, decipher their needs and wants for future new hires must be taken as one of the main core of an institution. Having an industry composed Advisory Board, inviting practitioners to your school and co-deliver a course are some of the most common practices. Additionally organizing a think-tank of practitioners where employers will be able to share their requirements for hiring graduate is very useful.
Wei Cheng Chen Senior Consultant
Wei-Cheng is a Senior Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting SA. He delivers business mandates related to strategic and operational management, talent sourcing and training, and development of hospitality institutions. As such, he has assisted many international organizations in the service sector – luxury goods company, insurance and banking – in designing and delivering tailored training programmes to enhance their customer service excellence and experience. His role also involves in developing hospitality learning centres around the globe and ensure sustainable growth and competitive advantage of each institution.
Prior to LHC, he worked in the hospitality industry in Argentina and Switzerland and also collected experience in the education sector. Wei was responsible for talent sourcing for Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, recruiting young future leaders for the hospitality industry.
Wei is a life member of Clare Hall, a constituent and graduate college of the University of Cambridge where he obtained his postgraduate degree. He is also alumnus of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, and possesses a degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management from the Escuela Internacional de Hotelería y Turismo CENCAP in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
When he is not in the office, Wei is most probably travelling, discovering new cultures and learning new languages. He is also very fond of cooking and fine food. For this reason, you can often find Wei working out in the gym as well.