WorldView: A Language Blog

WorldView is a place for leaders in the fields of language education, global citizenship, immersion learning and other topics central to the Concordia Language Villages mission to address issues important to their fields.

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How Global Skills Are Key to the Future of Work

By Jennifer Clinton, President and CEO, Cultural Vistas | Published: July 31, 2018

Self-driving cars, flexible work schedules, machines replacing cashiers. We’re experiencing a transformational moment worldwide, not only in terms of skills needed in the contemporary workplace, but the nature of work itself.

I see this every day in my work as President and CEO of Cultural Vistas. For more than a half a century, we’ve been at the forefront of preparing young professionals from around the world to both adapt to and define the future of work through our international exchange programs.

One thing I’ve noticed is global skills are increasingly important in the modern workplace. In fact, seven out of 10 American companies value a global workforce. This is why we’re constantly adapting our international exchange programs to prepare our participants for the future of work.

Our priorities include, for example, responding to the surprising trend of the worsening language learning gapwith 231 million Americans now reporting that they speak only English at home. We think that language learning, along with adaptability, empathy, and tolerance for diverse approaches to life and work, are skillsets valuable to the contemporary work environment.

To gain a perspective on how best to meet the challenges of this new era, I recently sat down to discuss the future of work with Florian Peter, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company.

Our discussion was held at the Cultural Vistas Berlin office and was attended by a number of entrepreneurs, international exchange alumni, current exchange participants, and government officials.

Florian Peter and Jennifer Clinton discuss the future of work

Together, Florian and I covered a number of topics:

As a serial entrepreneur with two decades of experience leading a variety of companies across the United States and Germany, Florian was particularly well equipped to present a global perspective on the changing world of work and the workforce, as well as field a variety of questions on the value of interdisciplinary learning, the future of lower-skilled labor, impending skill gaps, lack of creativity with international talentcertification of non-university programs, and how to approach financing creative projects.

Discussing these topics with a representative from a worldwide management consulting firm was an excellent opportunity for me to identify the biggest current workplace issues from the perspective of employers—and how best to respond to them.

Florian’s perspective also suggested promise as to the potential impact of our work going forward. He noted, “At our firm we have a big push right now with new leadership that wants to promote this global mobility so we feel that the world needs more practitioners that are exposed to these different cultures.”

While the world and workplace continue to change, the skills and competencies that international exchange programs uniquely cultivate remain as important today as at the time of our founding.

As we stand at the crossroads of education and the workplace, the issues and megatrends raised at discussions like these will continue to help guide our thinking as we strive to prepare for and define the future of work.

About the Author

Headshot of Jennifer Clinton

Jennifer Clinton's interest in international relations began at an early age after family vacations in Canada and a summer playing competitive basketball in Sweden. She lived with a host family there with whom she is still in touch. Since then, she has traveled extensively including living in France while studying for her PhD in French Literature. She is the President and CEO of Cultural Vistas.

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