Education Experts Call For Renewed Focus On Leadership And Skills Training To Prepare Youth For Employment In An Increasingly Competitive Workforce

Rapid population growth in cities across the world is putting a strain on urban education infrastructure. While technological advancements and increased interconnectivity are breaking down geographic and economic barriers to education, these improvements are being outpaced by current urbanisation rates. As a result, current education systems must innovate to meet the learning needs and provide the necessary skills for citizens to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.

Today, the FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards Education Forum brought together leading business, education and policy experts to foster discussion around the market forces that will drive investment and innovation in this sector. Speakers and attendees shared effective models, strategies and policy recommendations to scale education innovation to better serve urban residents.

"Providing people with effective, relevant and accessible education and training is the backbone of any economy," said Pamela Flaherty, President and CEO, the Citi Foundation and Director, Corporate Citizenship. "As our urban centers continue to grow, so does competition for jobs. Today's youth needs the support, knowledge and skills, such as financial capability, to create their own role in the economy."

"Leaders of education systems need to not only apply the best knowledge we have about improving schools but also encourage innovation drawing on examples that combine great teachers and great technology in news ways,” said Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor, Pearson. "In the future, learners need more than knowledge. They need to learn how to think, how to lead and how to take responsibility for their own careers in a demanding global context."

The forum's key speakers included:
  • Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor, Pearson
  • Freddy Boom, Head of EMEA Public Sector Group, Citi
  • Mark Cheng, UK Director, Ashoka
  • Kevan Collins, CEO, Education Endowment Foundation
  • Christopher Cook, Education Correspondent, Financial Times
  • John Dunford, Chair, Whole Education
  • Pamela P. Flaherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, Citi Foundation
  • Ty Goddard, Co-founder, The Education Foundation
  • Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director, INSEAD eLab
  • Michael Mercieca, CEO, Young Enterprise
  • Abigail Moss, Deputy Director, National Literacy Trust
  • Soraya Salti, Sr. Vice President - Mena, INJAZ
  • Brett Wigdortz, CEO, Teachfirst

“Unemployment in many countries around the world is at an all-time high, particularly in the Middle East region as highlighted during the ‘Arab Spring.’ For governments the issue is no longer just about providing quality traditional education – there is a need to equip youth with the skills they need to enter the global workforce,” added Soraya Salti, Senior Vice President of Middle East and North Africa, Junior Achievement Worldwide. “By working together, governments and the private sector have the capacity to build youth’s skills so that owning their own business becomes a viable career option. Entrepreneurship also has an economic advantage; the more successful new businesses that are started, the greater the benefit to the local community and further job opportunities for the unemployed.”

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