Becoming Future Ready: Critical Thinking, Real-World Experience & The Role of Technology

As the world continues to change at an unprecedented pace, the way we educate our children must also evolve. With the rise of technology, new industries, and the changing nature of work, it is essential to prepare our students for the future. 

With that, we recently sat down with Candy and Constanz, 2 students from our STEM First FinTech programme, and had a chat with them about what first got them interested in the programme, what they’ve learnt, and what advice they would like to give to other like-minded FinTech enthusiasts.

Giving more young women opportunities to enter the fast-growing and high-paying STEM fields will help narrow the gender pay gap. Through our programmes here at UWS, Constanz and Candy have found their footing in STEM and have a better understanding of the emerging FinTech field.

This article is co-written by volunteer Ann Mary Mathew and UWS staff Sandra Yim. 

Leveling the Playing Field 

Candy, an SMU freshman majoring in Computer Science, believes that education should focus more on developing critical thinking skills. “In today’s world, there’s so much information available at our fingertips. We need to learn how to sift through that information, analyze it, and come up with our own conclusions,” she says. “We also need to learn how to think creatively and solve problems. Those are skills that will be essential in any career.”

Constanz, a 19-year-old banking and finance scholar at Nanyang Polytechnic, agrees that critical thinking is important, but she also believes that education should focus more on real-world experience. “I think we should have more internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing opportunities,” she says. “We need to get out of the classroom and see what the real world is like. That’s where we’ll learn the most.”

Both students agree that technology should play a bigger role in education. Candy believes that technology can make learning more engaging and personalized. “There are so many apps and websites that can help us learn in different ways,” she says. “Teachers could also use technology to give us more personalized feedback and help us improve our skills.”

Constanz believes that technology can also help make education more accessible. “With online courses and digital textbooks, students who live in rural areas or who can’t afford to go to college can still get a quality education,” she says. “Technology can help level the playing field.”

Oh, The Things You’ll Learn! 

In the STEM First FinTech programme, students learned about the “ABCDE” of FinTech: AI, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, and E-commerce. Throughout the workshops, the students were given a very short time in which they had to come up with  ideas and solutions and confidently present it in front of 35 other students as well as Citibank mentors. The programme helped Constanz navigate her career path and sparked her interest in the dynamic world of FinTech. Besides making friends whom she is still in contact with, she shared that this programme provided her with many opportunities to meet inspiring women. 

Candy shared that participating in this programme has positively impacted her in multiple ways. She has become more confident, and her self-esteem has improved. She has also gained more job prospects and new opportunities for furthering her career and study! “I’ve learned so much from the programme, and I’m grateful for my experience,” said Candy.

The Future of Education 

When asked about what they think schools should do to prepare students for the future, both Candy and Constanz had some ideas. Candy believes that schools should offer more classes that are relevant to today’s world, such as computer science, coding, and artificial intelligence. “Those are the skills that will be in high demand in the future,” she says.

Constanz believes that schools should focus more on soft skills, such as communication and teamwork. “Those are skills that are important in any career, no matter what industry you’re in,” she says. “We also need to learn how to be adaptable and flexible, because the world is changing so quickly.”

Overall, Candy and Constanz agree that education needs to change to prepare students better for the future.

Words of Wisdom 

If you never try, you will never know. 

It is important to arm ourselves with knowledge and never be hesitant to seek out and seize any opportunities that come our way.

Exploring available resources 

Finding books, articles, and blogs related to the topics, attending workshops, conferences, and other events where you can learn from experts in the field are also some actionable steps that one can take.Take advantage of online courses and tutorials. Find mentors and ask questions. 

Don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment with new ideas

STEM and FinTech are constantly evolving and require an open mind and a willingness to learn. Whether it’s through developing critical thinking skills, gaining real-world experience, using technology, or learning new skills, it’s clear that the FinTech field will continue to evolve and the future of education will be very different from what we have seen in the past.

Above all, don’t forget to have fun along the way too!

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