Worldly Minded is a project that aims to equip young people in the UK with the intercultural skills and awareness that are becoming essential in our ever more globalised world. Currently the UK population is extremely under-prepared for the changes that the global economy will bring over the next few decades, and members of the younger generations who lack global employability skills will be those who suffer the consequences of this.
Worldly Minded is a project that seeks to provide solutions to this lack of intercultural skills, and to raise awareness of this issue among members of the public, education professionals and policymakers.
What are Intercultural Skills?
Intercultural skills encompass many things:
- a global mindset and awareness of global issues
- the ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints
- respect for others & acceptance of cultural differences
- the ability to adapt to different cultural settings and work, live and study abroad
- foreign language skills
Why are Intercultural Skills important?
UK businesses are struggling to compete internationally, meaning that the UK economy is rapidly losing importance on the global stage and is being overtaken by other emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries). Poor performance of the UK economy will mean that the next generation will be materially worse off than their parents, with relatively lower financial power and a longer working life. Contrastingly, strong economic and population growth in developing countries is creating an enormous workforce that will render the UK workforce uncompetitive and under-skilled, with UK jobs being filled by more interculturally skilled candidates from other countries, or outsourced altogether to other countries. While the English language is still essential in international business (for now), other languages are gaining importance as their populations grow at a much faster rate than the UK’s and foreign language skills are now a necessity.
If we don’t react now to equip young people in the UK with intercultural skills and prepare them for the future implications of globalisation, about which most young people are currently very unaware, then they will be seriously disadvantaged in the inevitable globalised context of the coming decades.
What is Worldly Minded doing about this?
There are several solutions to this issue. Through Worldly Minded and other initiatives we can:
- lobby the government to make foreign languages compulsory in schools
- encourage schools to provide a more international education and thus create a more globally-minded generation of young people
- demonstrate to the public the benefits of language skills and intercultural skills in terms of employability, through workshops and case studies
- promote international exchanges, study abroad programmes and work experiences abroad to improve intercultural competence and awareness
- encourage young people to undertake international travel and volunteering opportunities abroad, to develop a generation of responsible global citizens
- organise intercultural workshops for young people, to improve their communication skills and intercultural understanding, which in turn helps to integrate the many different communities that co-exist in the UK and promote tolerance