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Developing Our Future Workforce: ISS Professional Societies driving value, inclusion, and equity

By Yael Cass , Ph.D. ISS Director of School Operations

This article first appeared in the ISS October 2021 NewsLinks.

According to McKinsey’s experts Hancock, Lazaroff-Puch, and Rutherford (2020) “by 2030, up to 30 to 40 percent of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or upgrade their skill sets significantly.” The authors emphasize that skilled workers will become even more scarce and in short supply, and so advise employers to make sure employees are equipped with new knowledge and skills, able to meet the pace and scale of the up-and-coming workplace and technological changes.

International schools are no different. The pandemic brought to our attention that we can no longer rely on pre-pandemic operational practices and highlighted the need for expert advice and collaboration. School operation professionals — encompassing the seven discrete disciplines of HR, finance, facility management, procurement, health, safety and wellbeing, marketing, admissions, and communication — expressed to ISS their desire to be linked to sources of knowledge in their field, current best practices, and other professionals in their field.

These are not new needs or requests for ISS. In fact, given expanded internet access and globally collaborative tools, international school educators have seen growing low-cost professional development and networking opportunities.

But the same cannot be said for the schools’ support and operational employees. Although most of our school operations professionals come with experience and many with formal credentials, it is not easy for them to adjust to working in the education sector and stay connected to their field of operations. We often encounter school operation professional employees who find practices and work culture in international schools very different from the industry practices they are familiar with outside of education. The unique position of school operations professionals often sets them apart from their professional affiliation and their business networks.

To help school operations staff to stay current and connected, the ISS School Management and Operations team has entered into strategic collaborations with two key industry bodies to deliver the first international school professional supportive networks of its kind, a place where professionals can tap into the current body of knowledge in their field and enjoy access to the ISS school operations and facilities experts.

This initiative highlights two crucial areas of school operations: Human Resources and Facilities Management.

The ISS Society for Human Resources (HR) in collaboration with The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

SHRM is the world's largest HR professional society, with over 300,000 members from 165 countries. This association is a place for school HR professionals and school leaders to have access to the body of knowledge, best practices and procedures, HR advice and consulting, and an abundance of templates and interactive tools to perform essential HR functions quickly and efficiently. SHRM also offers globally recognized HR certifications.

The ISS Society for Facilities Management (FM) in collaboration with APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities

APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities is the premier educational facility management society. Busy Facilities Managers, Operations Managers, and other school leaders will be able to connect with the most current body of knowledge, engage in professional seminars and certification programs, and network with other like-minded school operations professionals.

By joining the ISS Professional Societies in HR or FM, school leaders and school operational professionals are granted direct access to the SHRM and APPA’s global membership programs. Free unlimited access to HR consultants by phone, email, or virtual call, reduced-price professional development opportunities tailored to our industry, and quarterly virtual meetings for knowledge sharing, education, and networking led by ISS are only a few of the unique benefits of The ISS Professional Societies.

Overall, the benefits of professional societies to career development and talent retention are known to be significant. Sought-after employers provide networking and career development opportunities. Universities encourage graduates to pursue affiliation with key professional bodies to boost their employability, plus access recent research, career advice, focus groups, and regular journals and publications.

Moreover, inclusion and equal opportunities in international schools are being more urgently addressed than ever before. School operations professionals, most often host country nationals, are essential in supporting the efforts of international educators by facilitating a safe, healthy, and conducive learning environment. Providing career development opportunities for school support staff not only enhances motivation, loyalty, and better performances — it is also a tangible means of promoting equity throughout the school workforce.

Investing in the career development of school operations professionals is extremely important and relevant in these times. Attention to the growth of these professionals sends a message of value to them and the school community, plus paves a pathway for organization agility to tackle any changes with speed and confidence.


About Yael Cass, PhD, ISS Director of School Operations

Dr. Cass is an organizational development and learning expert. She has over 20 years of management and leadership experience and has been directly engaged in business enterprises, including startups, on three continents. Her deep roots in education come from serving as a Vice Principal-Facilities and Project Management, a long commitment as a school board member and committee chair both in private and public education, and a Learning and Development Consultant. At ISS, Dr. Cass is responsible for developing and delivering school operations services to enhance the capacity of school leaders and international school support staff in the school operations domain. She holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Diploma in Architecture, MSc in International Management from Liverpool University and a Ph.D. in workforce dynamics and organizational development from the RMIT University. Based in Australia, Dr. Cass loves hiking and bushwalking, long road trips, and 4W drive adventures. Connect at

About ISS

As a nonprofit organization, International Schools Services (ISS) works with more than 800 international schools and tens of thousands of educators each year across its suite of services, creating the largest global footprint in international education support. Since its inception in 1955, ISS has promoted innovative best practices for global education. Core services include starting and operating student-centered, future-oriented schools; recruiting world-class educators and leaders; providing cutting-edge professional learning opportunities; sourcing essential school supplies; administering school foundations; and encouraging more diverse leadership in international schools. With offices in Princeton, NJ USA and Shenzhen, China and staff located across the globe, ISS invites all to join in making a world of difference. For more information, please see


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