You might have heard this phrase before: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” It comes from a video about the progression of information technology posted to YouTube in 2010. Nine years on we can see evidence of this with the rise in social media marketers, IoT specialists, and cloud architects. 

A new report from techUK, “Preparing for Change”, provides insight into how parents working in technology view the current education system. The majority of respondents felt that soft skills should be higher on the agenda at both primary and secondary school, and when it came to the curriculum the majority also felt there were necessary changes to be made. 58% of parents agreed the current curriculum does not focus on the necessary competencies for the future and 62% thought that schools could do better at teaching skills relevant for the workplace. 

Despite the fact that teamwork is used in the classroom on a daily basis, the education system still focusses on qualifications which are assessed individually. 91% of parents believed their child would have to retrain throughout their lives and as a result of this, the ability to adapt was something which parents felt was critical. Respondents were concerned that there is too much focus on teaching to the exam which prioritises the learning of hard facts rather than focussing on fluid intelligence which deals with adaption and changing information. 

These views support the statement published in the 2018 Universities UK report “Solving Future Skills Challenges” which predicts a total overhaul of how education is delivered, and warns that the “linear model of education–employment–career will no longer be sufficient”. This, in turn, echoes the findings from the Shadbolt Review of 2016 which looked into computer science degree accreditation and graduate employment. Despite high demand for computer scientists, 11.7% of UK computer science graduates were unemployed six months after leaving university. The review explained students needed to understand the real-world application of their studies. They need to understand how to collaborate, interact and communicate in the work place.

To illustrate the scale of importance, according to tech start-up group The Coalition for a Digital Economy, the UK will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy its growing tech economy. The evidence is building - from primary school all the way through to university it is becoming increasingly necessary for the education environment to reflect the changing world of work. To embed this is not an easy task, but the crucial ones rarely are.