The Oregon legislature is about to close another session without expanding Mandarin dual language immersion programs or creating a high school study aboard in China program. Portland Public Schools failed to fund sending two high school students for a pilot high school year abroad program, including one student to China. Politicians and educators are failing our next generations by not adapting education to current economic trends.
From the McKinsey Global Institute's article "The four global forces breaking all the trends" (here):
1. Beyond Shanghai: The age of urbanization
The first trend is the shifting of the locus of economic activity and dynamism to emerging markets like China and to cities within those markets. These emerging markets are going through simultaneous industrial and urban revolutions, shifting the center of the world economy east and south at a speed never before witnessed. As recently as 2000, 95 percent of the Fortune Global 500—the world’s largest international companies including Airbus, IBM, Nestlé, Shell, and The Coca-Cola Company, to name a few—were headquartered in developed economies. By 2025, when China will be home to more large companies than either the United States or Europe, we expect nearly half of the world’s large companies—defined as those with revenue of $1 billion or more—to be headquartered in emerging markets. “Over the years, people in our headquarters, in Frankfurt, started complaining to me, ‘We don’t see you much around here anymore,’” said Josef Ackermann, the former chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank. “Well, there was a reason why: growth has moved elsewhere—to Asia, Latin America, the Middle East.”
Perhaps equally important, the locus of economic activity is shifting within these markets. The global urban population has been rising by an average of 65 million people annually during the past three decades, the equivalent of adding seven Chicagos a year, every year. Nearly half of global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025 will come from 440 cities in emerging markets—95 percent of them small- and medium-size cities that many Western executives may not even have heard of and couldn’t point to on a map.1 Yes, Mumbai, Dubai, and Shanghai are familiar. But what about Hsinchu, in northern Taiwan? Brazil’s Santa Catarina state, halfway between São Paulo and the Uruguayan border? Or Tianjin, a city that lies around 120 kilometers southeast of Beijing? In 2010, we estimated that the GDP of Tianjin was around $130 billion, making it around the same size as Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. By 2025, we estimate that the GDP of Tianjin will be around $625 billion—approximately that of all of Sweden.
While it is full of opportunities, this era is deeply unsettling. And there is a great deal of work to be done. We need to realize that much of what we think we know about how the world works is wrong; to get a handle on the disruptive forces transforming the global economy; to identify the long-standing trends that are breaking; to develop the courage and foresight to clear the intellectual decks and prepare to respond. These lessons apply as much to policy makers as to business executives, and the process of resetting your internal navigation system can’t begin soon enough.
There is an urgent imperative to adjust to these new realities. Yet, for all the ingenuity, inventiveness, and imagination of the human race, we tend to be slow to adapt to change. There is a powerful human tendency to want the future to look much like the recent past. On these shoals, huge corporate vessels have repeatedly foundered. Revisiting our assumptions about the world we live in—and doing nothing—will leave many of us highly vulnerable. Gaining a clear-eyed perspective on how to negotiate the changing landscape will help us prepare to succeed.