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“Back to School” Webinar: What is the new normal for the Hong Kong’s education sector?

Published on Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

For parents and anyone who works in the education sector, the last 10 months have been an extraordinary time with all kinds of unexpected challenges. School kids in Hong Kong have spent the second half of the academic year learning from home, and with widespread concerns about just how long the Covid-19 outbreak will persist, questions remain about what education’s “new normal” might look like and how well it will work. 

 

We do know that home learning is set to resume when the new academic year begins. So, with that in mind, Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, is hosting a special one-hour “Back to School” webinar on 27 Aug. The aim is to create a forum for experts to exchange ideas and offer guidance on how best to adapt to - and reinvent from - unexpected circumstances for the education sector in Hong Kong. 

 

In particular, it is an opportunity for the sector to consider strategic transformation, covering everything from the way education is distributed and accessed to the engagement and wellbeing of students and staff. As the organisers note, it is now essential to rethink modes of teaching and academic culture generally for the digital age. 

 

The overarching theme of the webinar is how the education sector can rebuild and reinvent itself. To investigate that, key topics will include the fast tracking of digitalisation and its effect on the future workforce; emotional well-being; managing endowments and pensions in a volatile market; and possible M&A activity

 

These areas should be of special interest to principals, heads of administration, bursars, board directors and others closely concerned with the future direction of the sector. The speakers are expected to highlight some of the latest market trends and the types of technology that are helping schools offer classes online while also managing costs. 

 A probable scenario is that schools will have to operate in remote/ hybrid modes for the rest of the year. They will need the right plans and resources to ensure students and teachers are able to continue the “education journey” effectively and with minimum disruption. 

With regard to digiltalisation, Vicki Fan, chief executive officer of Mercer Hong Kong, notes that now, more than ever, “there is greater impetus for change”. Therefore, schools may see the need to examine their operating models and do a comprehensive review of current practices and accepted standards. That means looking at automation and digitalisation, including ways to streamline administrative processes and supply chains.

“Many academic institutions have proud histories, but with that often come challenges with change agility,” Fan says.“We find that stakeholder engagement and buy-in, deliberate investment, and allocation of resources are key to maximizing benefits, as well as improving student and staff experiences.”  

The webinar will also consider another hot topic: how to manage the emotional well-being of staff and teachers as they navigate radical changes in the teaching environment. 

Darryl Parrant, career business leader at Mercer Hong Kong, points out the importance of recognising how much the role of the educator is changing. Rather than “delivering content”, teachers now in effect learn alongside their digital-native students in “Superlabs”. In each class, there is more focus on creativity, communication, collaborative learning and critical thinking, which all add up to a new social model for learning. 

“New teacher roles and skillsets are emerging and the educator’s career track is evolving,” Parrant says. 

According to Richard Roper, health business leader, the issue of emotional well-being is going to be vital in future, not just in relation to staff retention, but to ensure teachers can continue to deliver a quality education. He cites authoritative research suggesting that if a teacher’s well-being is negatively affected, this has obvious personal implications, but also has wider repercussions by harming the student-teacher relationship. 

“Negative effects can be exacerbated during difficult times, but institutions can do something about this,” Roper says. “For instance, they can begin by providing an employee assistance programme, which has online tools to assess mental health, and should be ready to offer interventions when required.” 

In broad financial terms, the webinar will also look at how schools can better manage endowments and pensions in volatile markets. Adeline Tan, wealth business leader at Mercer Hong Kong, will address issues such as the need for cash to pay short-term bills while meeting investment commitments made as part of a long-term investment strategy. In her view, it is now a good time to review investment portfolios and review the different approaches to access long-term investment opportunities in order to grow available reserves to meet future cash needs and seek expert advice on different approaches to pension management.  Along the same line, schools provide competitive employee benefits, including pension, and it would be timely to round off the kind of support management can provide to staff to support them in their own retirement plans. 

Event Details:

Date: 27 Aug 2020 (Thursday)
Time: 2:30 - 3:30pm

Regsitration Link: https://bit.ly/315wiQY

Speakers:

Vicki Fan 
CEO
Mercer Hong Kong

Darryl Parrant
Career Business Leader
Mercer Hong Kong

Richard Roper
Health and Benefits Leader
Mercer Hong Kong

Adeline Tan 
Wealth Business Leader
Mercer Hong Kong