The Edtech Podcast monthly roundup: February 2020

Sophie Bailey returns with the low-down on what happened throughout February in the edtech world, including a focus on digital capabilities and inclusion, as well as university and industry

Digital capabilities and inclusion

A recent tweet quoting from the proceedings at the All Parliamentary Part Group on Digital Skills read “How can we be an innovation and economic powerhouse if around a third of the country aren’t even at the “digital starting-line?”  This is a very valid point. As we battle with 24/7 Coronavirus updates all around us, how many of us would be able to seamlessly transition to remote working or online schooling if we needed to? And, how can we better support everyone to get to the digital starting line?

Whilst we (rightly) focus great efforts on the UK maintaining its tech leader status, it’s worth bearing in mind that sectors which do not currently garner great fanfare, as either economic contributors or high-value earning career pathways, are predicted to account for more and more of our projected jobs. Take care, for example. A recent report by the World Economic Forum, Jobs of tomorrow, predicted the emergence of seven professional clusters, including:

  • Data and AI
  • Engineering and Cloud Computing
  • People and Culture
  • Product Development
  • Sales, Marketing and Content
  • Care Economy
  • Green Economy

If current growth trends hold, these emerging professions will provide 1.7 million new jobs in 2020 and 2.4 million opportunities by 2022. Crucially, growth is the most significant among care roles. Over the next three years, 37% of opportunities will be in the care economy vs. 16% in data and AI.

Inevitably, care will be another profession where successful professionals blend ‘digital’ and ‘human’ competencies. By looking with a broader lens at innovation and economic powerhouse goals, perhaps we can become more inclusionary on digital skills.

In our February episodes, I speak to the team at How Do I? on the themes of accessibility, instruction and learning technology in the workplace. How Do I? use near field communication to provide just-in-time training support for those with dementia, learning difficulties or workplace learning needs that can be supported through video; 

There are millions of people out there who have incredible skillsets as well, but who might just need a little bit of extra support to get into the world of work and are finding it really difficult. Those kinds of underutilised skills I think are really lacking from our workforce –  Tom Casson, co-founder and CPO, How Do I?, episode 186 of The Edtech Podcast

Another important thing will be that everyone’s given an opportunity to feel that sense of purpose and that sense of identity when it comes to being productive and having a job and having a place in society that they feel they can make a real difference in – Taryl Law, co-founder and CEO, How Do I?, episode 186 of The Edtech Podcast

Going back to the ‘digital starting-line’ and the seven professional clusters likely to make up a great deal of workforce job opportunity, we also spoke to Bridgend College.

Bridgend College is a further education college based in Bridgend, Wales, and was the 2019 TES FE College of the Year. Founded in 1928 as the Bridgend Mining and Technical Institute, the college today has four campuses and is a Times Top 100 Best Not For Profit Organisation to Work for 2020.

In episode 186, Ian Hurd chats to Claire George, sector champion for IT & enterprise for Wales; and Carl Bickle, robotics engineering lecturer at Bridgend College, about a pilot scheme aimed at forming a new qualification in cyber security, designed to create routes into tech careers for a new generation of digital learners.

Where is education going if it doesn’t evolve? – Carl Bickle, robotics engineering lecturer, Bridgend College, episode 186 of The Edtech Podcast

University and industry

Also in February, we picked apart university and industry, exploring learning economics in an age of perpetual upskilling, the unique strengths of university and industry respectively, and to what extent established universities are limited on how they can evolve through regulation and red tape.

There is a shift from letting universities answer the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ to instead asking industry to be a partner in defining the what Rachel Romer Carlson, CEO and co-founder, Guild Education, episode 185 of The Edtech Podcast

One of our guests, Rachel Carlson, is the CEO and co-founder of Guild Education. Guild is a fast-growing (Unicorn-valued) company that helps employers offer higher education as a company benefit to their frontline employees. Guild is on a mission to unlock opportunity for the 88 million Americans who need education and reskilling to compete in the future of work. Guild partners with Fortune 1000 companies like Walmart, the Walt Disney Company and Chipotle, helping their employees study in partnership with leading non-profit universities.

I think Rachel’s take on the university specialism of pedagogical practice vs. content delivery is exciting, valuing, as it does, the specific teaching expertise of the institution. This puts an end to the trope on the ‘uber-isation’ of teaching or the ‘netflix of education’. Teaching and learning is about so much more than just consuming content.

Why should you go global when the best business of most companies are local?  Henrik Friman, CEO of IHM Business School in Sweden, episode 185 of The Edtech Podcast

Another guest on this episode was Henrik Friman CEO of IHM Business School in Sweden. Henrik questioned the trend towards seeking business opportunity and university opportunity globally, when so much partnership can be found locally. This is interesting given the current mix of political and health events making us question globalisation logic.

More on this next time…

One woman very well placed to speak on this intersection of industrial strategy, educational mission and digital competencies is Liz Shutt. Liz is director of policy for the University of Lincoln and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. She is based in London and works to improve the connection with Government and the Civil Service (quite topical!). She is currently leading the development of a Local Industrial Strategy for Greater Lincolnshire and the 21st Century Lab project considering the key challenges of the 21st Century and what this means for universities. Liz is on the podcast in a few weeks. You can subscribe and listen in via Apple Podcast, Spotify etc by searching ‘The Edtech Podcast’ and hitting subscribe.

You might also like: The Edtech Podcast monthly roundup: January 2020

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