Preparing for ageing population

October 18th, 2018
(File pix) We can learn from other countries, like Japan, on how to handle an ageing population. Pix by Poliana Ronnie Sidom

AS Malaysia prepares itself to be an ageing nation when seven per cent of its population will be 65 years and older by 2030, it is obvious that much thought has to be given to grapple with the problems and challenges that would arise.

According to Universiti Malaya’s Social Wellbeing Research Centre, the number of Malaysians aged 60 and above is projected to reach 3.5 million in 2020 and 6.3 million in 2040 — about 20 per cent of the population.

The most common problems that senior citizens all over the world are facing include deteriorating health, malnutrition, lack of proper shelter, fear, depression, senility, isolation, boredom, non-productivity and financial incapacity.

These problems can be grouped into two categories: physical and mental health, and financial capacity.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on Saturday, urged the older generation to remain active and continue working, even after retirement.

Dr Mahathir, who is 93, said if they do not remain active, they will become weak.

He was speaking at the “Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities Conference” in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons.

It is timely for the government to review its policies and prepare for this transition, including providing a better social support system. The country must have a comprehensive social security programme since studies show that the retirement income for most older people is inadequate.

The average life expectancy of Malaysians is 75 years, therefore, a person needs savings to last between 15 and 20 years.

A study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute early this year showed that less than 25 per cent of working people interviewed believe that they will have enough money to support them through their retirement years.

Since the cost of living is expected to increase in years to come, it is important to provide a social safety net, including allowing healthy and experienced senior citizens to work.

The government could emulate the approach taken by countries which had introduced financial incentives for employers to hire or retain older workers and subsidise job training for them.

Focus should be given to elderly women, as they are more likely to be widows who do not have adequate retirement incomes.

The government should develop an ageing-friendly healthcare system that focuses on prevention and less on costly hospital care. We must accept the fact that fast-growing elderly population will strain the healthcare system.

Apart from building and improving hospitals and clinics, more geriatricians should be trained as there is only one geriatrician for every 100,000 older persons.

We should learn from developed nations, especially Japan, on how to handle an ageing population.

Japan has reached a new world record with one in three people aged over 65. Although Japan has among the best healthcare and social safety net for its senior citizens, the ageing population has put a strain on its financial system and retail industry.

By TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/10/422166/preparing-ageing-population

Committee set up to study and review nation’s education policies

October 18th, 2018
The Education Ministry has set up a 13-member Committee comprising experts to study the nation’s education policies. (NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has set up a 13-member Committee comprising experts to study the nation’s education policies.

Set up as an independent body, members of the National Education Policy Committee received their letters of appointment from Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik at the Parliament building today.

The appointments are for a period of six months, from Oct this year to April next year.

“The committee will give a recommendation based on independent research on the overall education policy of the country,” said Maszlee in a press conference after the ceremony.

The committee will also study the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (pre-school until secondary education) and the 2015-2025 Malaysia Education Development Plan (Higher Education) with the cooperation from the National Education Advisory Council (MPPK), and submit a recommendation to the minister.

The committee members, led by Malaysian Association for Education (MAE) and Malaysian Society of Education Administration and Management (MSEAM) president Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, have a wide range of expertise that covers education policies, management training, STEM, educational technology, arts and other fields beyond education such as imbalance, gap and humanity. Many of them such as Hasrizal Abdul Jamil from Khalifah Model School, also have vast experience from abroad.

Also present was Deputy Education Minister, Teo Nie Ching.

Speaking at the press conference, Ibrahim said that the first draft of recommendations from the committee would be ready by December 2018 and the second, by February 2019.

The penultimate draft of the report willl be presented in March just before the final report in April 2019.

“We are not reinventing the wheel,” said Ibrahim, “There are already so many good policies that have already been implemented.”

“However, there is a gap between the policies and the implementation that we are seeking to address.

“Our aim is to produce a comprehensive study report to help improve the nation’s education system.”

The committee is tasked with providing innovative ideas in redefining the national education system to create a holistic Malaysian society, among others.

It will also be reviewing national education policies and approaches in the existing teaching and learning processes, and will study and recommend the direction of the education system in Malaysia from pre-school to university, with the goal of making government schools the preferred choice of students.

By Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/422497/committee-set-study-and-review-nations-education-policies

PM: Hope is on the shoulders of the youth

October 18th, 2018
The fate of a united and prosperous Malaysia now lies with the young generation, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (NSTP/MALAI ROSMAH TUAH)

KUALA LUMPUR: The fate of a united and prosperous Malaysia now lies with the young generation, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said the country’s future rests on the shoulder of the nation’s youth, especially in the event that their contemporaries from the older generation are no longer around.

“My hope is on the young. A large number of my generation is gone. Whose hands would we leave the fate of this nation to, if not to the young generation?

“I plead with the young generation, please learn and grasp every kind of knowledge to transform Malaysia into a developed country.

“Acquire all skills. Strengthen your inner character. Hold firm to religion and noble values. Reject corruption firmly. Inculcate truth, honesty, and justice. Let us work together and unite to create a bright future for Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Mahathir was speaking during a speech to unveil the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) Mid-Term Review (MTR) at the Dewan Rakyat this afternoon.

Meanwhile, he emphasized that 11MP MTR is for the prosperity of all Malaysians from Perlis to Sabah and encompassed Malays, Chinese, Iban, Kadazan, Murut, Orang Asli and other ethnic groups in the country.

“We want a united Malaysia. We want Malaysians who are successful and enjoy the nation’s wealth. I urge all Malaysians to shoulder this responsibility.

“If all contents in this document are implemented, I am confident that Malaysia would roar once again as the Asian Tiger.

“Malaysia’s image would change from a kleptocratic nation to a true democratic country, with a government which is clean, noble and with integrity.

“Malaysians at every corner of the world would be able to introduce themselves proudly as “I am a Malaysian.” This is our (government) vow. This is our promise.

By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/422521/pm-hope-shoulders-youth

SIDMA College Sabah 3rd 2018 Staff Gathering

October 18th, 2018

Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Founder and Chairman) officiated the 3rd 2018 SIDMA College Sabah Staff Gathering by conveying his sincere appreciation and thank you note to all SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah staff and staff of SIDMA subsidiary companies such as Fiona Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd, SIDMA Didi Childcare Centre, Bentleytel (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. The event was organised by staff from the Blue Team at SIDMA Atrium on 12 October 2018.

He expressed his admiration to SIDMA staff on their team spirit shown during some recent SIDMA big events such as, #SIDMAgoesLIVE – where the college launched its Digital Media Day on 6 October 2018. During the event, SIDMA College staff turned up in full force despite it being a Saturday and a Public Holiday (Sabah TYT Birthday). Dr Morni was also glad to note that during the current Kadazandusun Language Club Speech Contest held at various secondary schools and District Education Departments, staff who were also members of the club, travelled to the various schools and district education, together with him as the advisor, to co-organise and provide any required assistance during the competition.

In addition, Dr Morni took the time to emphasise on the necessity for the academic staff to be more focused on their core business, particularly on the students learning. He cited the case where more than 10 SIDMA DECE students failed to meet and complete their semester June 2018 teaching practicum with accordance to the specified timeline (dateline) due to the student’s poor attitude and commitment towards their work (practicum). Thus, he advised lecturers and academic supervisors to be more concerned on their students’ performance and provide appropriate interventions from the early stage.

SIDMA Staff Gathering is never complete without greetings and well wishes from Dr Morni and colleagues to fellow colleagues who were celebrating their birthday that season. For this round, staff whose birthday is on the month of August and September were invited to the “Birthday Cake Candle Blowing”, amidst “Happy Birthday” song sang by all the other staff members.

The gathering continued with various games whereby staffs were divided into their respective teams.  They would then be tested on their creativeness, endurance level and teamwork.

The activities consisted of 3 games, namely, “Do you have it?” whereby participants were asked to create something only with what they have. “Where is Bobo? “, another game which requires the participants’ endurance and teamwork as they have to work together to score the highest goal. “Pembaris”, the last game was more on creativity where they need to give clue to the group’s representative to guess the word. The whole event ended at about 4:00 pm where the finishing was the high tea refreshment that was served. All in all, the red team emerged as the winner with a 50 point, followed by black team, green and the yellow team. There were heartache and disappointment, but with the team spirit, everyone leave with a happy hand and mind knowing that SIDMA Family is a true happy family from all backgrounds.

Read more @ https://www.sidma.edu.my/index.php/others/185-sidma-college-sabah-3rd-2018-staff-gathering

Prices of items have fallen since SST introduced, says Deputy Minister

October 17th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The prices of 70% of goods surveyed have gone down since the implementation of the Sales and Service Tax (SST) on Sept 1, says Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen.

“An analysis of price changes was done, comparing average prices between May and September this year. On the whole, 70% or the prices of 291 items was reduced, while 27% or 115 items saw prices increasing and three percent or 11 of items saw no changes in prices,” he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Alexander Nanta (PBB-Kapit) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Oct 17) .

He said the price survey was done on a total of 417 household items covering fresh produce, dried and packed foodstuff, as well as infant food and products.

Chong said the prices for the 291 goods were reduced by an average of between 0.11% and 37.61%.

Chong informed the House that 146 notices were issued to traders that were suspected of profiteering, of which about 100 had flouted regulations.

On that note, a brief shouting match ensued between several Barisan Nasional Opposition MPs and Pakatan Harapan MPs.

The commotion was sparked by Datuk Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) who called for another price survey, as the present was done during the tax Goods and Services Tax (GST) holiday before the implementation of the SST.

He noted that survey was done based on manufacturers’ supply of previous stock of goods, and not on current supply.

To this, Chong reminded Ahmad that he had earlier acknowledged that it was too premature to assess the impact of the SST on prices of goods.

by martin carvalhorahimy rahim,  and fatimah zainal
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/17/prices-of-items-have-fallen-since-sst-introduced-says-deputy-minister/#fgPhyxrRAglix2mb.99
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/17/prices-of-items-have-fallen-since-sst-introduced-says-deputy-minister/#fgPhyxrRAglix2mb.99

Managing technology transfer

October 17th, 2018
(File pix) PSP’s Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division Translational Research And Innovation Programme head, Mohamad Fakri Zaky Ja’afar, with National Best Intellectual Property Management awards won by Universiti Putra Malaysia through the years. Pix by Mohd Khairul Helmy Mohd Din

UNIVERSITIES continuously come up with potentially impactful ideas and technologies generated through research and development initiatives to benefit businesses and communities, and they have the responsibility to transfer the knowledge to society at large.

At Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) the role of managing technology transfer is taken on by Putra Science Park (PSP) through activities such as intellectual proper (IP) management, promotion and commercialisation of ideas and technology.

From UPM’s 2,000 IPs in various fields of research, PSP has facilitated the commercialisation of 166 technologies to diverse groups of industry players, including local and international companies, with a gross sale of more than RM61 million. Due to the efficiency and effectiveness in managing IPs, the varsity has won several major prizes for the National Best Intellectual Property Management for the organisation category in years 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

PSP’s Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division Translational Research And Innovation Programme head, Dr Mohamad Fakri Zaky Ja’afar, said as the centre of innovation management and technology transfer at UPM, PSP acts as the bridge to partner with business entities to commercialise the university’s innovations.

“We always welcome local and international companies to collaborate with the university in commercialising innovative products that would contribute to the country and society,” he said.

PSP pioneered an innovative commercialisation approach called the Innohub Programme in 2013, which has been instrumental in developing 57 start-up companies that has generated production and sales on an industrial scale, with a total capitalisation RM7.8 million. The initiative provides a supportive and fertile ecosystem for innovation to grow into commercialised products, especially within the innovative technology sector.

“Over the years we have tried and tested so many ways of transferring our technology and knowledge to the industry, and one of the most effective ways is for the researcher to venture out as entrepreneurs. This is a key feature of the Innohub programme.

“This programme is unique because our graduate students are paired up with our researchers in start-up companies to work on testing and validating which business model will work for the technology that they are developing.

“We have many new technologies entering the market because of this effort. We have vaccines, fertilisers, engineering, information and communications technology and medical products, for example. This in-house programme has secured many pre-commercialisation grants from government agencies, which aim to build and grow the respective businesses, such as through the building of pilot plants to produce products and services,” Mohamad Fakri Zaky said.

Armed with this experience, through Putra Dynamics, under the Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division, PSP has implemented a series of training and development opportunities to help other universities and research agencies with their technology transfer activities.

The training programmes are aimed to enable technology transfer officers, management personnel, IP managers, business incubation managers, start-up chief executive officers, researchers and law officers, who are directly involved in technology transfers at local universities, research institutes and agencies to continue to develop and extend their professional skills and knowledge.

“We provide hands-on solutions through practical information sharing to solve research and commercialisation challenges. We have a proven track record, delivering public and in-house courses for local universities, SME companies, and government organisations,” said PSP director Professor Dr Samsilah Roslan.

PSP previously collaborated with the Higher Education Leadership Academy and Innovation and Technology Managers Association in developing curriculum for technology transfer officers and personnel for other universities and institutes of higher learning.

Among PSP’s training programmes are Intellectual Property Awareness Workshop, Intellectual Property Valuation Workshop, Lean Market Validation/Start-up coaching, IP and Commercialisation Workshop, Technology Pitching Workshop, Hands-on Industrial Design, Negotiation, and other technology transfer organisation-based needs.

By ROZANA SANI .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/10/422013/managing-technology-transfer

Tvet, a viable pathway

October 17th, 2018
(File pix) Mohd Hazzerwan Mohd Hazzlee is collaborating with big names in fashion.

For many students, tertiary education is the ticket to good jobs, opening up opportunities to be successful in life.

Parents, teachers and society in general have ingrained this in children from a young age.

To graduate with a degree, students spend years learning in class which may leave them little time for internships to gain experience at the workplace. But in today’s competitive job market, practical experience is the number one quality employers look for in hires.

Although tertiary education has always been the top choice for many students, technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) offers a compelling career path especially for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers.

Tvet graduate Mohd Hazzerwan Mohd Hazzlee, co-founder and creative director of Wan & Mary, said a vocational college education has helped him to realise his dream. The collection consists of arts and cultural elements which mix high fashion with street fashion to meet current trends.

The Diploma in Fashion Design graduate from Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara Rembau (KKTMR) said: “I rejected offers of different courses from top public and private universities because I wanted to pursue something that I love—fashion and art.”

Mohd Hazzerwan later pursued the Degree in Fashion design course at Heriot Watt university of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

“At first I was a bit hesitant to apply for the fashion course at KKTMR as the institution was new then and was taking in its first batch of students. But I am glad I took a chance.

“I had the most amazing experience at KKTMR. until now, the lecturers have been supportive as it is not easy being in the fashion industry.”

Having recently won a prize of RM100,000 in Gen F (generasi Fesyen), a programme for budding fashion designers, Mohd Hazzerwan is collaborating with big names in fashion.

He is excited at his latest partnership with Fashion valet for its ready-to-wear collection.

He is also preparing to make his debut at International Fashion Week next year in either London, Paris or Milan.

There has been growing concern over the rate of employability among fresh graduates, be it from local or private institutions. Students today may aspire to professions which may not be relevant to the country’s needs.

This may be due to lack of exposure and knowledge on the economic outlook in the country. Nevertheless, students have to plan their careers carefully.

TVET programmes are often deemed inferior to courses offered by private and local universities. It is unfortunate that there seems to be a stigma attached to those who pursue TVET. The younger generation needs to realise the importance of TVET and regard it as a viable pathway.

Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul from the Department of Learning and Teaching Innovation (Technical and Vocational Education/Engineering Education) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Education said that this misconception of TVET is common among low academic achievers.

“We have heard success stories and achievements of TVET graduates who may earn more than degree holders,” he commented, adding that a teacher’s role is imperative to see TVET in a new light.

“It is essential to expose secondary school teachers to the TVET educational framework and career path. Teachers have to stop regarding TVET as the second or last option for SPM school-leavers.

“Our country’s TVET framework is unique where students have many course options. Those who do not do well academically have the chance to pursue higher education regardless of their SPM results.

“TVET in Malaysia must be revamped or remodelled after the German and Japanese curricula which are endorsed by the industry. Professional bodies in Malaysia need to step up and ensure the standard curriculum is in line with industry need. The curriculum here was developed by the board at an institution which sometimes does not cater to industry demand.”

The country needs a skilled workforce and innovators who possess a high creativity in utilising its resources for manufacturing and produce good services to compete globally.

“TVET is important is many ways especially in the economic and social context. The government has emphasised that TVET graduates are not job seekers but job creators. This will contribute to the country’s economic growth and the sustainability of our social context in handling future challenges.”

CAREER-READY

TVET offers a rich array of programmes in many fields including automotive, culinary arts, electronics, engineering, entrepreneurship and journalism. It involves learning in class and hands-on training, which provide knowledge and skills for employment.

TVET students are equipped with specific skills in a specific field. Early exposure to practical and on-the-job-training ready them for the workplace.

CKL Group of Companies, which is best known for its Lim Tayar car service centres, established School of Skills (SoS) to meet industrial need for local experts and skilled labour in the automotive industry. SoS aims to instil its students with real-world experience, ready for the workplace.

CKL Group of Companies, executive director Clement Lim said that SoS is important to produce skilled workers in the automotive sector.

“SoS acts as a self-mitigation tool for the company to alleviate dependency on foreign workers. We hope to nurture more talents and hone quality recruits for the industry.

“SoS offers programmes designed to give students the skills they need to become skilled and professional workers. The number of cars on the road is increasing, making the automotive field a big market. Hence, once students finish their studies at SoS, a job placement is guaranteed.”

SoS training department head Daneshwaran Krishnasamy said trained experts in all fields are in demand in the country.

“Our programmes boost skills and the workforce in the automotive field. By doing something practical and hands-on, we are able to draw out students’ interest easily. Many of our students, who did not perform well academically, are passionate when it comes to practical training.

“This industry is lacking in manpower. I used to work at BMW car services where the technicians were highly paid. Some were confident enough to leave and set up their own workshops for premium cars.

“The biggest advantage of SoS is its workshop where students spend most of their training hours. However, this school is not for Lim Tayar alone. After finishing their advanced diploma, students can apply for internships at any automotive workshops in the country,” he added.

SoS offers theoretical and practical training, and the work-integrated Train and Place programme, which involves four months of classroom-based learning followed by eight months of industry exposure.

UNIVERSITIES ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE

Generally, students go through 11 years of academic-based primary and secondary education.

Students who are not academically inclined can opt for vocational college as early as 16 years old upon completing Form Three.

Aiman Hakeem Aminuddin decided not to follow the mainstream path of applying to university despite scoring 8As in the SPM examination. The MRSM Tun Ghaffar student enrolled in the Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance course at SoS instead.

“I chose to pursue a TVET programme because I realised that picking up a skill benefits me in many ways, not only for future job prospects but also in my daily life.

“My family and I were going back to our hometown when the car tyre was punctured. Having learnt the skills in my diploma course, I was able to change the tyre without help,” he said.

“My parents convinced me to pursue a TVET programme. When the results for university applications were released, I did not even check mine as I was determined to study at a vocational college.

By MURNIATI ABU KARIM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/10/422015/tvet-viable-pathway

Outstanding headmasters to be placed at ‘harapan’ schools to boost performance

October 17th, 2018
(File pix) Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the placement was a mandate given by the ministry to the school heads to bring positive changes in the schools. NSTP/ Supian Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR: Forty-one high performance school heads will be placed at under-performing schools nationwide, the first batch under a project by the Education Ministry to help improve the schools’ performance.

The school heads will be placed at schools that in need for assistance in the form of leadership and school management for a period of three years.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the placement was a mandate given by the ministry to the school heads to bring positive changes in the schools.

“All of you (the school heads) are the heroes that will help to propel these under-performing schools in our effort to produce more heroes for the country,” he said in his speech during the handing over of “Pelonjakan Kepimpinan Sekolah (ProPeks) Kohort 2018” programme appointment letters to the school heads today.

He said the placement of top-performing school heads at under-performing schools was a form of recognition for them.

“It is a trust given by the ministry, with hopes that you could help to bring change at the under-performing schools.

“Believe that all of you (the school heads) are the best to do this challenging task,” he said.

He said the success of an organisation depends not only on the quality and efficiency of its members, but more importantly the quality of its leadership.

“In the context of our education system, strategic leadership at the ministerial level must be supported by dynamic leadership at the State Education Department and District Education Office,” he said.

Under the programme, the school heads will be assisted by lecturers from Aminuddin Baki Institute (IAB).

The pilot project, which involved nine high performance school heads, began last year.

The programme upholds the Five System Aspirations under Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which to ensure that every school is led by high-performance school head, was a critical effort in ensuring every child gets quality education.

By NSTP Team.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/422139/outstanding-headmasters-be-placed-harapan-schools-boost-performance

Heavy schoolbags? Only a third of weight from school stuff, says ministry.

October 16th, 2018

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry has issued guidelines to schools, teachers, students and parents over the heavy schoolbag issue.

A study it conducted found that pupils in primary schools were lugging around schoolbags that were too heavy, but this was because pupils were bringing more books than scheduled by their timetables.

The ministry’s study conducted in 2017 found that heavy schoolbags were caused by pupils bringing too many books, including exercise books, workbooks, dictionaries, comics, water bottles, food and sports attire, as well as other attire identified by the school.

The same study found that textbooks and other activity books, if brought according to the timetable, only contributed to 28% of the overall weight.

On its guidelines for schools, the ministry states that the timetable should be rearranged so that there are three or four subjects a day. It also says lockers should be set up so that pupils only bring home books needed for homework, and for discussions to be held with parent-teacher associations (PTAs) on the issue.

Free water should also be provided based on discussions between the school, canteen, and PTAs.

Guidelines for teachers include giving clear instructions on what books are needed for the following day, reducing the number of exercise books for each subject, and encouraging pupils to leave their books in the school locker or cabinet.

Pupils must be advised to only bring textbooks, activity books and other things as needed according to the timetable, to sort out their bags each day, and to keep their books in lockers if these are provided in school.

Pupils are also encouraged not to bring trolley bags as these are too heavy and can affect their shoulders.

Parents are advised to prepare suitable bags for their children, to encourage them to only bring what is necessary according to the timetable, to help them arrange their bags, and to encourage them to put their bags down while waiting for their transport home and during school assemblies.

Parents are also advised to go through their children’s bags once a week to remove any rubbish or books that are not needed.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/16/heavy-schoolbags-only-a-third-of-weight-from-school-stuff-says-ministry/#3S0AqZUfp2U7Uomg.99

Can studying abroad prepare for one’s future?

October 14th, 2018

Studying abroad is a positively life-changing experience, especially in this 21st century and on the cusp of 4IR.

WE are in an exciting period in our history. Change and disruption are the norm and developing the resilience and creativity to harness this disruptive energy is increasingly seen as a requirement for success.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) yields more advanced technologies that are slowly replacing human workers, young people entering the workforce need to equip themselves with the capabilities and skills that machines are not capable of, such as creativity, empathy, resilience, purpose and creating a network.

Cultivating these 21st century tools requires intentional planning and work beyond the classroom and academic curriculum. Multiple studies suggest that when it comes to enhancing the individual’s success toolbox and improving career prospects, the activity that promises the highest return on investment is studying abroad.

Research by INSEAD’s Professor William Maddux and Professor Adam Galinsky from the Kellogg School of Management and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that spending time studying abroad increased the creativity of students.

“The relationship between living abroad and creativity was consistent across a number of creativity measures including those measuring insight, association and generation,” the paper asserted.

Similar research was conducted by three scholars at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and published in the journal, Applied Cognitive Psychology. It showed that students who spent a semester or year abroad outperformed other students on measures related to critical thinking. This provides empirical evidence that studying abroad “supports complex cognitive processes that underlie creative thinking in culture specific and domain general settings”.

Further evidence was provided by The Erasmus Impact Study, commissioned by the European Commission in 2014, which found that students who study or train abroad not only gain discipline-specific knowledge in their field of study, but also strengthen key skills that are highly valued by employers.

The study reported that 64 per cent of employers think that international experience is important when they select future recruits. A similar percentage of the polled employers said that graduates with an international background are given greater professional responsibility within their respective teams.

The evidence that studying abroad is a positively life-changing experience is overwhelming. It accelerates personal and professional growth as well as intercultural awareness and career development.

Living independently, and interacting with students from a different culture, builds self-confidence and widens horizons, promoting empathy and open-mindedness.

Recognising the importance of spending time abroad, Heriot-Watt University developed the Go Global programme, which guarantees every student an opportunity to spend some time studying at an overseas campus. This can be for a two-week study trip, one semester or even one year. With campuses in the United Kingdom, Dubai and Malaysia, the university is fortunate to be able to offer its students this opportunity.

Each year 120 students transfer from the Malaysia campus to Edinburgh and Dubai, and similar numbers of students move in the opposite direction. This ensures a highly diverse campus community at all three international locations.

Students who participated in the Go Global programme reported an improvement in their academic performance and generally found it easier to land their first job in the industry of their choice. They became part of the wider, more global professional networks which enabled a number of them to land jobs with major employers overseas, continuing the journey of advancement as global citizens.

To further prepare our students for the competitive future ahead, and to enhance their employability potential, we are now working on a “work global” programme in partnership with selected key global employers. This will enable students to have the opportunity to perform their internship overseas, and to be part of professional teams working on cutting edge challenges in multiple geographical locations.

Ban Ki-moon, a former secretary general of the United Nations, said: “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth — these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women empowerment. Solutions to one challenge must be solutions for all.”