Why Online Education Helps In The Global Marketplace

Online higher education offers accessibility and flexibility, writes Dr. Ward Ulmer, associate dean of Walden University’s College of Management and Technology.

Last month the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was ranked as the 12th most competitive nation by the World Economic Forum, ranking highest among all other nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

While undoubtedly a boost to the region, the Emirates Competitiveness Council said the country’s ranking also comes with the challenge of maintaining this year-on-year improvement. One way in which it suggested competitiveness can be upheld is through encouraging the private sector to focus on its international interactions — forging relationships with other emerging markets and attracting the best talent from other regions.

With expats accounting for 84 per cent of the UAE population, there is no doubt the region is fast becoming a global epicentre for talent, but businesses in the Gulf must continue to hire talent that keeps them at the top.

Preparing for the Global Workforce

As the global workforce is rapidly changing, professionals are taking a closer look at their career aspirations and the skills and knowledge they need to achieve them in a networked world.

Globalisation presents both a challenge and an opportunity in today’s business landscape for Gulf employees who can help their businesses grow. As companies expand their marketplace to reach new customers, the skills they demand from their employees become much more defined. Both diversity and adaptability are at the centre of many organisational operations. Increased communication and analytical skills also offer employees an advantage in today’s global marketplace, as do collaborating virtually and understanding and appreciating cultural differences.

Many working professionals are turning to online higher education to acquire these skills and help them succeed while simultaneously juggling their careers and family commitments. In fact, the E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014–2016 published by Docebo states that from 2012–2016 the annual worldwide growth rate of e-learning (per year) will be 7.9 per cent, and by 2016 the worldwide e-learning market will be valued around $51.5 billion.

Addressing the Need

Online higher education was developed to address the need for adult learners to have an educational experience that was both accessible and flexible. With the advent of the online “global classroom,” students around the world can instantly connect with other students and faculty through valuable networking opportunities where they exchange best practices and share professional experiences.

Many online programmes also have curricula that include global business examples and cases, which provide students with the opportunity to consider and discuss global issues and how the economy impacts business decisions with their network of colleagues from around the world. Students not only acquire the skills and knowledge needed to advance in their careers but also gain access to a global network as well as receive insights into diverse business and cultural approaches that could be an asset to any organisation.

Competing on an International Stage

The popularity of online higher education among professionals reflects a collective acknowledgement of how vital global connections are, whether with peers, colleagues or clients.

It also reflects the global footprint of many companies. Opportunities to enter the global marketplace are now being explored by a wider range of organisations, both large and small. By expanding their borders, organisations can take advantage of and access new markets, and perhaps more significantly, tap into new pools of talent to help them compete with other parts of the world—and employees need to be at the forefront of this trend too.

Globalisation has redefined how organisations and their employees operate and perform. It has forced employees’ hands, making them move quicker to keep up with the global skills race that organisations are keen to leverage. Furthermore, it has allowed online education to create opportunities for many more people than traditional campus-based institutions by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to achieve their career ambitions and letting them do so on the international stage.