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CEO Keys - 2022 Predictions

12/13/21   |  
Keypath Education US

The transformation of higher education across the globe has continued in 2021.

While many universities are re-opening their doors to on-campus students, I believe the way we deliver education has fundamentally changed as universities work out how to meet the flexible, digital learning experiences many students now expect.

As always, future forecasting is a roll of the dice. Let’s look back at my predictions for 2021 and what happened, and then ahead for 2022.

Here’s a recap of my 2021 predictions:

1. Nursing programs will continue to be among the fastest-growing programs – both qualifying programs like the ABSN, and programs that help already qualified nurses to upskill and specialize – as the demand for general registered nurses, and nurses with specialized skills will grow at unprecedented rates. Before Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimated that we will need an additional 9 million nurses worldwide by 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 3 on Health and Well-being. 

There is no profession that has been impacted as greatly as nursing during the pandemic.  Our need for nurses has only increased in 2021 and while many nursing programs have expanded their capacity and numbers of students, the shortage continues.  According to a recent article on AP News (many hospitals, especially rural and smaller ones, are running approximately five fewer nurses than is optimal.  With increasing retirements and nursing burnout, the need for new nurses is still an acute issue globally.

2. We will see an increased demand for programs delivering the skills and knowledge to work in mental health services. Across social work, counselling, psychology, and mental health nursing programs, 2020 has only increased the already under-supplied demand for qualified practitioners and services in these areas.  

Programs that deal with mental health continue to grow substantially to fill an ever-increasing need – including programs such as social work, counselling, and mental health nursing. The global pandemic has decreased our collective mental health with a recent study finding 53% of people are negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.  Keypath has seen demand for programs that deal with mental health increase in 2021. But, because these programs are typically 2-3 years in length the lag between interest and more qualified graduates entering the profession will take several years to resolve.

3. The need for speed and digital will be prioritized. With unemployment in the U.S almost double today compared to February, and still requiring improvement in economies like Australia where they have returned to a COVID-normal state, the drive for re-skilling is paramount to economic recovery. The World Economic Forum called for a "re-skilling revolution” back in Jan 2020. Covid-19 has only increased the need for the global workforce to be re-skilled quickly via access to a wide range of high-quality, university-accredited programs that deliver on the needs of the future of work. 

We have seen many education companies (including Keypath) see increases in up-skilling or re-skilling on-demand courses.  Even though many industries have bounced back we still see a shortage in labor within STEM fields.  The question longer term will be, can “short” courses give enough skill-based learning to re-skill longer term?  I believe students value the choice of obtaining shorter-term skills, but unlike full degrees, these skills are short-lived and must be continually upgraded to keep pace and advance. 

Looking forward to 2022, we can expect Covid-19 to be part of our lives and our education choices well into next year.

Here are my three predictions for 2022

1. The acceleration of healthcare-related programs that lead to professional licensure will continue to expand to more online/hybrid formats.  Because most universities had to “figure out” these complex programs during the pandemic, the acceleration of acceptance of digital within these programs will increase. 

2. With the ever-increasing demand for online courses and programs, investment in course development and improving the student online experience will increase. Most universities had to just get the program online so students did not have to stop their education. As a result, the investment in online courses needs considerable attention so that the experience with online continues to be positive long-term.

3. We still have millions of students globally who have some college and no degree. There will be an increase within universities offering more 100% online options at the undergrad level. These courses could be bundled as a certificate or stacked into a full degree. As we know, online education has increased largely at the postgraduate level. Higher education will continue to work on solving this very large opportunity within undergraduate programs.

At Keypath, we’re dedicated to transforming education to transform the world. Working with universities across the globe, together we’re helping to close the gap on major skills shortages that have a large social and economic impact.

To partner with Keypath in 2022 and beyond, reach out to our team here.

To become a Keypather, and make an impact every day, take a look at our career opportunities here.

Be safe and be well

Steve Fireng, Global CEO