Why it’s time to stop worrying about the oil and gas slump

International schools need to look to the positives, says Carolyn Savage

By Carolyn Savage, Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder. 

Over the past month, news of the recent slump in the oil and gas industry and the likely knock-on effects that this will have on various industries has been circulating, particularly in relation to the enrolment of pupils at international schools around the world. Southeast Asia and the Middle East are expected to see the biggest fall, says the International School Consultancy (ISC).

It is understandable that those working in international education are beginning to question the security of their jobs, but they do not need to panic

A slowdown in any major industry will undoubtedly have an effect on the enrolment at international schools, but we must not ignore the huge amount of other industries that are also growing at an exciting pace. For example, industries such as the financial technology (fintech) and biotech sectors are filling the gaps very quickly. With that being said, it is understandable that those working in international education are beginning to question the security of their jobs, but they do not need to panic.

Asia-Pacific fintech investment quadrupled in 2015 to $4.3 billion and it is now the second biggest region for fintech investment after North America, accounting for 19% of global financing activity and the growth of fintech is not showing any signs of slowing down. In the first quarter of 2016, Asia-Pacific fintech investments increased by 517%, and 62% of overall global investments in fintech went to Asia and Europe indicating the Asia-Pacific region is established in many industries, not just oil and gas.

In 2014, Singapore’s Prime Minister announced plans to make the city-state the world’s first smart nation by 2030 which has only fuelled the rapid growth in the fintech and biotech industries that we have been seeing. Since then, investment initiatives such as the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FTSI) scheme have appeared, as well as the opening of the world’s largest fintech hub, Lattice80, which is a not-for-profit initiative to help fintech startups, support existing companies and develop new innovative technologies.

Singapore’s neighbouring country Malaysia continues to welcome increasing numbers of high-tech and IT professionals, with the country’s Communications Minister recently confirming that the digital economy contributes 20% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product. Meanwhile in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is seeing a large influx of expatriates thanks to Dubai being the host city for Expo 2020, a universal event that brings 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million people together, while expats are settling in Qatar in increasing numbers with FIFA World Cup 2022 around the corner.

The ongoing commerce, travel and tourism industries in these regions are only becoming more established with positive growth, so international school professionals should not be put off by changes in the commodities markets when looking to find an international school. While enrolments could be affected in areas that are heavily focused on the oil and gas industries, there are plenty of other industries that are in a healthy state and continue to be on the up, with the ones mentioned above being just a few.

Destinations that have long been popular with expatriates as well as having thriving commerce and travel, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Qatar, are looking up, making there no need to pull out of these areas just yet.

As Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder, Carolyn is passionate about education and has spent 15 years working with children from all around the world, helping them to grow into responsible, active global citizens. As a third culture kid, Carolyn’s understanding of the changing face of international education runs deep and she’s keen to help parents find the right schools for their children.

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