International schools needn’t panic over the oil & gas slump
“There’s no need to panic; there is a plethora of up-and-coming industries within these territories that is drawing in new expat professionals and filling the gaps”
Carolyn Savage, Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder, reassures international schools in the wake of the global oil & gas slump that is being felt in the education sector.
The recent slowdown of the oil & gas industry had an inevitable ripple effect on pupil enrolment at international schools. The International School Consultancy (ISC) predicted a drop of around 1-2% in enrolments in The Middle East this term, as well as lower enrolment rates in Asia-Pacific.
Some schools have seen little or no slowdown in the number of parents registering an interest, while others have experienced a larger reduction in enrolment, because they cater more specifically for families involved in the oil and gas industry.
Unsurprisingly, professionals working in the sector are questioning the impact this slowdown will have on their positions. But it’s important to note that there’s no need to panic, even in the schools most directly affected; there is a plethora of up-and-coming industries within these territories that is drawing in new expat professionals and steadily filling the gaps.
In the first quarter of 2016, for example, Asia-Pacific fintech (financial technology) investments increased by 517%, and 62% of overall global investments in fintech went to Asia and Europe. With fintech investment in Asia-Pacific more than quadrupling in 2015 to $4.3 billion, it is now the second largest region for fintech investment after North America, accounting for 19% of global financing activity.
“Singapore in particular is seeing a rapid growth in the fintech and biotech industries”
Singapore in particular is seeing a rapid growth in the fintech and biotech industries, as initiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who announced plans in 2014 to make the city-state the world’s first smart nation by 2030. Since then, investment initiatives such as the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FTSI) scheme have been established, as well as the opening of the world’s largest fintech hub, Lattice80, which is a not-for-profit initiative to help 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 together 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million people, 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 also continuing to grow, suggesting that international school professionals shouldn’t be overly concerned by changes in the commodities markets. While enrolments will undoubtedly 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. For schools, it may simply mean an increased push in marketing in order to attract expats from different industries.