What Education Providers Should Offer in a Changing World: The Importance of Specialist and Generalist Learning, Transferable Skills, and Global Skills.

What Should Education Providers Be Offering Their Students?

The world is changing rapidly. Education providers need to change with it. Here begins a lesson for education providers. First, some interesting statistics -

Moving Abroad

More and more people are moving abroad to work. Some statistics –

  • Over one million Australians now work abroad.
  • In 2022, 560,000 British people moved abroad to work.
  • Research in 2022 also found that 62%, yes, 62% of people were considering moving abroad to work.

Working Online

  • Coincidentally, 62% of people currently work remotely at least some of the time in their work.
  • The number of people working remotely has tripled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Whilst only 16% of companies worldwide are truly global, that does not account for how many of their workers work remotely.

When someone works remotely, they can potentially work for any country in the world.

Changing Jobs

  • Research suggests that people will change their jobs 5 – 7 times during their career.
  • Young people in the 18 – 24 age group will tend to change their jobs more often.

Changing Careers

  • Research suggests that 9% of people are changing their job every year.
  • The average person changes their career five times in their working lifetime.

Lifelong Learners

Research suggests that 73% of people consider themselves to be lifelong learners.

Changing Needs

You may be reading this and thinking “so what?” But all of this information is essential for anyone involved in education.

We cannot continue to provide education in the same way that we have in the past. The needs of the world around us and the needs of our students has changed.

Specialists or Generalists?

John Mason, Principal of ACS Distance Education, recently posted this on social media -


“What's better - generalists of specialists? - I heard someone discussing university research this week and it sounds like specialists may have had their day - and the future is for generalists. Try doing a search for the topic. Specialists excel in one discipline, but know far less about the wider world. Traditionally this made for success. Today people change careers, and the world changes faster - and the need to adapt and be innovative is more important than ever. Research is showing that the generalist is more innovative than the specialist - that's a fact. The most valuable education should teach people to be capable, adaptive, innovative generalists. Many education institutions are still stuck in the old way of teaching people to be specialists. Some have moved on.... we saw this coming 20 years ago and moved in that direction. Did you?”


We have just seen from the statistics above that people are moving careers and jobs more often.

  • When they change careers do they want to have to learn everything from scratch? No. We all have skills that we can take with us from one job to the next.
  • CV and resume experts are now advising people to write their CV/resume based on their transferable skills, rather than focussing on the jobs that they have had.

A person may have worked in a specific job, requiring some specialist skills. But within that job, they will also have developed other, transferable, skills.

Transferable skills are skills that you can take with you from one job to the next, such as –

  • Good time keeping
  • Good time management
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills


The lesson for education providers here is to recognise that students may need to develop more of these transferable skills, such as time management, remote working etc.


Another lesson for education providers is the idea of specialist and generalist learning. People do need specialist knowledge. For example, an expert in wild animal protection will require specialist knowledge about the animals and how to work with them. However, they will also require generalist knowledge, such as working with law enforcement, working with local populations, good communication, good leadership skills, self-discipline, motivation etc.


We can therefore see learning in the shape of a T. The top of the T is learning that is not as deep, learning that is important and generalist. The broad learning we require to do a range of jobs and tasks.

The vertical line of the T is our specialist learning. It is thinner but more detailed and in depth than our other learning.


Therefore, generalist and specialist learning is essential.


Another lesson for education providers – we need to provide our students with specialist knowledge where they need it AND generalist knowledge to enable them to do their jobs well. The person who protects wildlife will not get very far if all they understand is the wildlife. They need to know how to communicate with others to ensure that the animals are protected well and others know about their situation.


Working Where?

As we have just seen, 62% of people want to work abroad. 62% of people are also working remotely and potentially working for more than one country. This means that the education we provide has to be suitable globally. If nearly two-thirds of people are working in different countries, then we need to train people to be able to work globally.

This may mean knowledge of different cultures, languages and behaviour, but it also means that our skills must be suitable globally.

Skills, such as management, time keeping, leadership, remote working etc can be used everywhere. But what about specialist knowledge?

A specialist in Australian bushtucker plants may find it hard to gain work in another country? Not necessarily. They may be specialists in their field and be lucky enough to find a job in their specialism in another country, but they can also transfer their knowledge of horticulture, plants and plant care to other jobs.

A lesson for education providers – we also have to recognise that specialist knowledge and generalist knowledge is important. We need to offer a range of options to our students.

Lifelong Learners

As we say, nearly ¾ people think that they are lifelong learners. This offers a massive potential market of students to education providers who recognise that a lot of people want to learn throughout their lifetimes.

This may be updating existing knowledge, but also expanding and learning new knowledge.

Another lesson to education providers – Nearly ¾ of the adult population are your potential students.


What do we learn from this all of this?

  • Many people want to learn throughout their lifetime.
  • Many people want to work abroad.
  • Many people work for other countries remotely.
  • People need to be specialists and generalists.

All of these people are your potential students.

It is therefore important for any training provider to offer generalist and specialist training to students.

But it is also important to recognise that the training provided must be suitable for students worldwide, not just in one specific place.


What can we offer?

  • ACS Distance Education started in Australia, but now has tutors and course writers throughout the world. All offering their specialist and generalist knowledge in their field, and in distance learning.
  • We offer over 700 courses in a wide range of topics. Some specialist, some generalist. If students want to expand their knowledge of a particular topic, we can help. If they want to expand and gain more generalist knowledge, again we have courses on offer.
  • We offer white label courses that education providers can use to expand the courses they offer.
  • Individualised, specialist support to education providers interested in working with us.

The world is changing  and education providers need to change with it. Education providers need to be offering their –

  • specialist and generalist education
  • global education opportunities
  • lifelong learning

With ACS DE, we can help you to do just that.


So get in touch below to find out more about just what we can offer.


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We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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