Analysis of OECD Report “Trends Shaping Education 2013”

The OECD report on Trends Shaping Education 2013 provides a statistical overview of current trends as they relate to education. The report is not designed to analyze and predict the impact of these trends on the future of education, but rather it is occupied in asking key questions that may stimulate important discussion. In doing so, it asks the main question “what might this trend mean for my education system and my work?” (p. 15) while fully recognizing that “the future is inherently unpredictable” (p. 16). As with any study by the OECD, critics will point to the lack of representation from developing countries. This criticism is well established, I have chosen to put those arguments aside for the purpose of analyzing the potential market opportunities created by the identified trends, and the value of the report to educators, learning technology specialists, and entrepreneurs.

My main goal is to analyze the trends presented in the OECD report and identify possible market opportunities for educational products and services that result from these trends. In the following chart, I have summarized the statistical overview provided by the OECD, along with questions related to these trends and possible market opportunities that arise from them.

Trend Area Trend Questions Raised Market Opportunities for Educational Products and Services.
Globalization Increase in immigration and travel to OECD nations, coupled with an increase in trade and openness to global markets has led to a trend away from nationalized decision making.
  • How can educators and service providers overcome the difficulty of educating a larger, more culturally diverse, and multilingual population?
  • What role will education play in creating environmental solutions and awareness, and alleviating a growing disparity between the rich and poor?
  • Competition and need for constant innovation for nations to stay relevant in global market creates opportunity for educational entrepreneurs.
  • Opportunity for “green” innovations, and products and services that help ease the burden of the wealth gap are apparent.
Well Being and Lifestyle Increasing urbanization of the population creates challenges and opportunities for education providers and policy makers. Social problems such as crime, wellness and a less politically active population are increasingly becoming a public issue.
  • How will education providers and policy-makers compensate for the burden of a growing urban population on educational resources?
  • How will education help develop solutions for societal issues?
  • Education is often turned to to solve social issues, creating opportunities for innovative solutions.
  • Investment in public health has increased dramatically, creating opportunity for entrepreneurs in the growing health education industry.
Skills and the Labour Market With increase of women in the workplace, comes an increase in the need for education. As a result of this increase, there is a growing need for child care and ECE services. OECD countries have invested heavily in R&D over the past two decades to stay competitive in the “knowledge economy”. As a result there is a substantial increase in patents through OECD countries, as entrepreneurs jockey to capitalize on ideas.
  • In what way can education help reduce wage inequality and further the course of women’s rights?
  • What is the role of the education system in promoting entrepreneurship and providing skills required to be self-employed?
  • There is an opportunity for educational entrepreneurs to take advantage of this growing sector of the market (women).
  • The growing need for childcare and ECE services creating a lucrative market opportunity in this important sector.
  • The increased investment in the “knowledge economy” creates opportunities for innovative education providers.
Modern Families The population of OECD countries is aging, and people are staying active later in life than ever before. Meanwhile, families are becoming smaller and more diverse. Education is being leaned on more than ever before as a way to for families to achieve upward mobility.
  • What role should education play in providing for the older members of the population?
  • How can education effectively support a more diverse family structure, especially as related to financial education, health and the growing emphasis on education in the workforce?
  • Adult education is becoming increasingly more important as people stay active in the workforce for longer.
  • Families are investing more and more into their children’s education, creating greater marketplace opportunities for educational entrepreneurs.
New Technologies The rapid development of information technology, the increased need for computer skills in the workforce, and the proliferation of internet usage and mobile technologies, have increased the importance of digital literacy within OECD countries.
  • How can education utilize the transformative properties of the computers, mobile technology and the internet,  in an effective and non-intrusive manner?
  • In what way can education utilize advances in technology (especially related to social networking, user-generated content, open-source software, cloud computing, applications and the digitization of texts) to enrich student learning environments?
  • The explosion of digital technologies has opened a massive but unpredictable marketplace, where entrepreneurs and innovators are given unprecedented opportunities.
  • Despite the population’s growing dependence on digital technology, education still remains mired in a traditional mold, leaving the door open for effective solutions to blending education and technology.

After reviewing the trends, key questions and possible opportunities for educational entrepreneurs, it is clear that the OECD report effectively cultivates a discourse that is both useful and valuable to educators. Teachers, administrators, stakeholders and policy-makers can use the study to discuss and predict future outcomes and position their organization or institution to provide viable educational solutions for future generations. Furthermore, the report allows learning technology specialists and venturers a glance at population trends that will shape markets in the coming decades. From here, questions can be raised, encouraging innovative and entrepreneurial minds to create marketable educational solutions for these issues. It should be noted, however, that a learning technology specialist may not glean any information t about specific technology trends from the report, which is designed to summarize population trends, not necessarily upcoming technological innovations. In this case, a person hoping to gain insight into what technological ventures to undertake, or what fads in educational technology to capitalize on, may not find value in the report.

For me, a report such as this provides me a broad understanding of current trends that are shaping educational markets and policies. As a relative newcomer to the field, such a report is valuable to my future success in that it provides me a necessary foundation of knowledge into population trends and how they are influencing education. It also provides me key questions to consider should I choose to venture into the educational marketplace. I would certainly recommend the report to others on those grounds, as it is not, and does not claim to be, a source of answers or predictions as to the next popular technology or educational fad.


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