Education and global cultural awareness

Burton and South Derbyshire College (BSDC) held its annual Make Your Mark Expo between 8th and 12th February and Celsium was fortunate to be one of the guest speakers invited to present to students and teachers.

BSDC's annual Expos present opportunities for students to attend presentations, workshops and exhibitions based on themes such as vibrant learning, teaching and assessment, preparing for work in the global environment and technology enhanced learning.

Celsium's Shelley Lloyd was invited to present to students and lecturers, so she delivered an interesting and informative presentation about corporate global mobility, including a Burton-to-Japan case study. There was certainly plenty of food for thought for both students and teachers alike.

What was particularly interesting and encouraging was the College's take on the global environment. They are acutely aware that our world is increasingly globalised and that to succeed, job seekers must be equipped with skills and knowledge to a) give them a competitive edge over other candidates and b) do business effectively in an international marketplace.

Some of the students at BSDC (as from many other colleges) have never been overseas. Whilst this in itself is not a great issue, it may hold the students back when applying for certain jobs. For example, assume two students (from different colleges) qualify with the same BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering and apply for the same job.

Student A from college Z has never been abroad and interacted with non-UK citizens or foreign cultures. Neither has he been taught anything about the global economy as part of his educational curriculum.

Student B from college X has been abroad a couple of times so understands that foreign cultures and customs are different to those of the UK. Additionally, college X has a learning curriculum that includes working in a global environment and cultural differences.

What the heck has that got to do with engineering? Well, increasingly, employers are operating on a more global basis - and this isn't just confined to senior executives. Some employers are taking on graduates and as part of a long-term development programme, sending them overseas. So an amount of exposure to other cultures and an understanding of overseas workplace practices could quite easily give a candidate that extra little something that sets them apart from the competition.

So whilst colleges such as BSDC are keen to embrace learning in this area, I wonder how many other educational establishments are doing the same for their students? Do you have any experience of this?

Celsium would like to thank BSDC for the opportunity and in particular, Karen Matthews, the External Relationships Manager at the college.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK