How to graduate globally competitive students

Microsoft executive Cameron Evans discusses the skills that students will need to succeed in the future—and how schools can teach these skills

Here are four skills students will need to be globally competitive.

According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, the United States now ranks fifth in the world in terms of national competitiveness, behind Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, and Germany.

With that statistic in mind, are the educational opportunities we’re providing for our students going to help the U.S. compete as a nation—and are these opportunities going to help students themselves be competitive in a global, information-based economy?

These questions were the focus of a recent eSchool News webinar sponsored by Microsoft. During the webinar, Cameron Evans, chief technology officer for Microsoft Education, identified four key skills that students will need if they want to succeed in the new global economy.

These skills will never become obsolete, he said, because they can’t be automated or replaced by machines.

• Creativity and intuitive design.

“We have computers that can solve problems,” Evans said. “What we don’t have are computers that can innovate.”

In a world with so many choices for everything from what type of ketchup to buy to where to eat a steak, “design matters,” he added—it’s how to make new products or ideas stand out.

• Narrative building and story telling.

“Our ability to tell stories is as old as humanity itself,” Evans said.

Whether it’s telling stories with data, or being able to defend a position or persuade someone, “this is a skill set that all companies need … Storytelling is a constant skill across the board.”

(Next page: Two more essential skills—and how a new initiative is helping to foster them)

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