Pearson looks to adapt to shifting parent and college student ambitions

Published 29/06/2021

The present world can feel uncertain and changeable – in one sense we are emerging into a post-Covid landscape and yet in another we are still very much shaped and constrained by the pandemic and its evolving variants.

With this in mind it is encouraging and exciting that one constant throughout has been the fact students still want to continue their studies and many still want to travel abroad to do so.

But what we have also found is that many students have reflected on and reconsidered their career paths during this time.

Recently published data from Pearson’s 2021 Global Learner survey shows that parents and college students alike have learned to think differently about school and careers, with a new appreciation for hands on learning and growing interest in science:

  • 91% of parents say they plan to continue with more involvement in their children’s education post-pandemic.
  • 56% of college students are reconsidering their career path as a result of the pandemic.
  • 45% of college students have been inspired by the pandemic to consider a career in healthcare or science. Half of parents also report their children being more interested in healthcare and science careers. 53% of college students now report an interest in starting their own business.

The poll, conducted by Morning Consult from April 28 – May 12, surveyed 4,000 parents with children between the ages of 11 and 17, and 2,000 college students in four countries: Brazil, China, the United Kingdom and the United States.

What the survey has also shown us is that while the pandemic has been emotionally tough on students of all ages, most are emerging better and stronger, building new skills like resilience, empathy and adaptability. To quote one more stat from the findings if I may:

  • 7 in 10 college students say they’ve grown as a person, citing self-motivation, adaptability and emotional resiliency as the top skills they’ve gained. Parents see the same in their school aged children, with 64% saying their kids have grown or changed for the better. Parents say their children have learned adaptability, new tech digital skills and a concern for others.

Having led the English Assessment business at Pearson through the pandemic I have witnessed the disappointment of students worldwide – unable to take their English language test or travel abroad to study due to the mass global shutdown as Covid came in 2020.

“I have also seen the pent-up demand from students for test slots as soon as they become available again”

And I have also seen the pent-up demand from students for test slots as soon as they become available again. To give one example, in China last year we opened up many extra temporary PTE test centres throughout the summer to enable students to take our Pearson Test of English and help them on their journey to study for a degree abroad.

At Pearson, we also announced earlier in this year that we are restructuring to ensure we best meet the needs and aspirations of global learners of all ages. Within the new English Language Learning division, I am heading up the Pearson Tests of English business, bringing together our teams and people across the globe into one synchronised group.

Of course, these are early days, with the new organisational structure formally launching this summer. But what I can say with pride and confidence is that we have a world class array of digital English learning and tests to help learners across the world, whether they are learning online at home, at school or college or at a private language school.

And that with our direct-to-consumer approach it will never be easier and simpler for people to access the Pearson English Language product that meets their needs – whether that is securing a new role, studying at a top university abroad or settling in a new country.

About the author:

Freya Thomas Monk is SVP English Assessment at Pearson plc, where she leads the multi-national delivery of assessment products to evaluate English proficiency and support English language learning. She joined Pearson in 2004 and since then has led teams spanning strategy, school services, operations and digital product development as well as the English language assessment portfolio. Freya has extensive experience working in the UK, US, India and other markets, and is committed to promoting global education, in particular English proficiency for study and employability. Before Pearson Freya held roles as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and leading web development in the era. She holds an MA from Keble College, Oxford University and an MBA from INSEAD (Paris). Freya is Chair of Governors of a primary school and Trustee of a charity promoting social cohesion. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

Twitter: @FreyaThomasMonk

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