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Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

If the second decade of the 21st century demonstrated anything, it's that we live in an age of constant change.

Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

From the Trump presidency to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve almost come to expect the unexpected. However, there are some significant global trends that, it’s safe to say, will shape the next decade.

Together with online learning expert GetSmarter, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), we look at five of the factors that will influence the professional and personal lives of international workers in Europe over the next ten years. 

Gain an understanding of the world in the coming decade, in just eight weeks online with LSE and GetSmarter

1. Populism and economic nationalism. Donald Trump was only the most prominent manifestation of a populist surge in the second half of the last decade that afflicted many Western democracies. It was driven by disenchantment with globalisation and seemingly detached elites or technocrats.

The recent war of words between Germany and Hungary, over anti-LGBTIQ legislation, and the ensuing, very public demonstrations of support by many German sporting clubs, is only a glimpse of the ‘culture wars’ that seem to dominate the politics of central Europe in the next decade. 

Political turmoil, fanned by state and extra-state actors, may become more normalised, and that has implications for where you choose to live or take a job.

2. Cybersecurity. As more and more of our lives move online, powerful corporations handle our data and digital networks are exposed to criminal and extremist groups. What are the long-term consequences of the digital economy? How will privacy and cybersecurity concerns be addressed, such as those raised by the European Union, and who will control the new digital monopolies?

An example of how one of these issues may impact international workers in Europe is the recent ransomware attack on Swedish supermarkets, which not only saw shoppers unable to buy goods, but the entire business crippled for a number of days, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue and additional costs. 

As a benefit, however, IT specialists in cybersecurity will become more sought after, and many will need to be trained to meet the demands of corporations on the ground.

Enrol by October 5th in the Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from LSE and GetSmarter to help you navigate the next decade

3. Brexit. It’s been five years since the United Kingdom voted to separate from the European Union, and despite half a decade of negotiations and diplomatic wrangling, tensions are still very much alive between the EU and its neighbour.

Aside from the very obvious changes to the way that many live and work in Europe, many smaller businesses are finding it impossible to ship goods, or provide services to the UK, due to spiralling freight costs, or lack of clarity about trade agreements. For many international workers in Europe, this has implications for businesses and employment – Britain may not maintain the market status it once did. 


Pic: The Local Creative Studio

4. US Elections. The 2024 US Presidential Election, and the midterms before that, will be a test to determine whether Trumpism was an anomaly, or remains an unpredictable, destabilising force in American politics for years to come.

On this side of the Atlantic, we’ve seen that the American isolationism of the previous administration has been replaced with a more cooperative approach and a military presence that is stabilising, if not increasing. For those who work in Europe as defence contractors, or with firms that do business with the military, there are more opportunities for growth after a period of stagnation. For serving personnel, they may find that their time in Europe is extended, with more opportunities to experience life in other nation

5. Climate change. The COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year will be a defining moment in the struggle against climate change. The United States and China, but also other major emitters, will need to make bigger global efforts after five years to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

While you may be asked to use new power sources, or technologies with better energy efficiency, Europe is already being impacted by hotter summers and wetter winters, changing the way many work and go on holiday – something that you will have to get used to in the long term. 

Stay ahead of the curve. If you’re an international resident or your career requires an understanding of major global issues, it can be hard work keeping informed of these massive changes.

The Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with GetSmarter, explores some of the significant global trends that will define the decade, and have very real consequences for business and society.

Flexible, online learning designed by leading LSE academics enables anyone to develop the skills needed to think critically and make informed decisions during times of change and uncertainty.

Embrace change: enrol by October 5th in LSE and GetSmarter’s eight-week Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course

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EDUCATION

What foreign parents in Germany need to know about Sprach-Kitas

Germany has a number of specialised nursery schools that focus primarily on helping children with their German language skills. Here's what foreigners need to know about them.

What foreign parents in Germany need to know about Sprach-Kitas

What even is a Sprach-Kita? 

A “Sprach-Kita”, or Language Kindergarten, is a special type of nursery school that’s been around in Germany since 2016 under the government’s Sprach-Kita Programme. The main aim is to help young children build up their German language skills to a level that will allow them to succeed at school. 

How is this different to a normal Kita or daycare centre?

Unlike most Kindergartens in Germany, Sprach-Kitas employ staff who are specifically trained in language teaching and acquisition. These specialists are paid for through Sprach-Kita Programme funding and help to shape the environment of the nursery school, making it easier for children to develop their German skills in an everyday setting.

The schools also have access to external support and advice on catering to children with language setbacks, and may work closely with parents to encourage further language development at home. 

Since the scheme was set up in 2016, around 7,000 nursery schools have successfully applied for “Sprach-Kita” status and received at least €25,000 funding through the programme. These were mostly Kitas that had already taken in a higher-than-average number of children from foreign backgrounds, such as those in popular migrant or expat areas.

Sprach-Kitas will generally be much more diverse and focus most heavily on children’s language skills, in addition to teaching young kids about cultural inclusivity.  

READ ALSO: ‘Multilingualism is an enrichment, not a deficit’: Raising bilingual kids in Germany

Who are Sprach-Kitas for?

Any young child in Germany is allowed to go to a Sprach-Kita, but the main target audience for these specialised nurseries are the children of foreign parents.

In households where German isn’t the main language spoken, children may struggle to keep up with their classmates at school due to their lower level of German fluency. That could be because the child has two international parents – such as a French mum and an English dad – or because the child has more contact with a parent who doesn’t speak German. 

According to recent statistics, around one in five nursery-age children in Germany doesn’t speak German with their parents at home. That equates to 675,000 children in total. In addition, around 40 percent of nursery school children come from a migrant background. 

Through the Sprach-Kita Programme, government is hoping to help these children integrate at an early age to set them up fully for life in Germany. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rise in multilingual children in Germany

Do I have to pay for a Sprach-Kita? 

Parents usually have to pay a monthly fee for their child to attend a German nursery school – and the same applies to Sprach-Kitas. The fee structure is generally set by the local government, meaning it can vary widely across different regions of the country.

However, you won’t pay any more (or less) for a Sprach-Kita than you would for an ordinary nursery school. 

Where can I find a Sprach-Kita?

Around one in eight Kindergartens in Germany is currently a Sprach-Kita, meaning they aren’t particularly hard to find.

To look for one near you, the best thing to do is to hop onto the government website and look on this interactive map detailing all of the Sprach-Kitas in Germany. 

Children ride tricycles at a German kindergarten.

Children ride tricycles at a German kindergarten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/mauritius images / Westend61 / M | Westend61 / Mareen Fischinger

However, partly due to staffing shortages, Kita places in Germany are highly competitive right now – so securing a place may involve getting in touch with a number of them at an early date. 

READ ALSO: How can Germany improve its Kitas amid teacher shortage?

Is there anything else I need to know?

Currently, the funding for the Sprach-Kita Programme is due to end at the end of 2022 – and it’s unclear what the fate of the existing language-focused nursery schools will be after this happens.

Though the three parties of the traffic-light coalition had pledged to extend the scheme in their coalition contract, it appears that the programme was one of the first victims of savage negotiations over next year’s budget.

That means the federal government are now hoping to transfer the responsibility for funding the language support over to the 16 states.  

“Responsibility in the area of daycare for children lies with the states and cannot be permanently financed by federal funding programmes,” a spokeswoman for the Family Ministry told Welt. 

The Ministry for Families has also pledged to make language acquisition a cornerstone of its forthcoming Good Childcare Act, which will see at least €2 billion in federal funding made available for nurseries in 2023 and 2024. 

That could make it possible for existing Sprach-Kitas to remain in place as specialised centres for language support. 

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