Filling the UK’s ICT skills gap is one of the hottest topics for government and employers right now.
When I was invited to a Tech Nation meeting at Downing Street in February with the UK alliance partners, the talk was all “skills-gap”. What’s good is that the UK recognises that tech will contribute billions more to the economy than it does today, so is doing something about it – today.
What is the skills gap?
Simply put, the majority of ICT graduates I’ve interviewed for jobs leave university with nothing like the skills modern tech companies, particularly SMEs (small and medium enterprises) like mine, need. Every ICT graduate I’ve employed has been a hobbyist programmer, web developer, or UI designer. They learn what employers want today because they teach themselves in their spare time. That means the curriculum is not keeping up with the industry, and how can it?
A three or four year degree cannot flex enough to accommodate advances in tech. So universities and employers need to work more closely to bridge the gap that will prepare students for work. SMEs are more agile, and can quickly adopt new technology because they’re not anchored in to legacy platforms that can take a long time to break away from or redevelop.
With e-Skills UK estimating that Europe could be facing a skills gap of 900,000 skilled ICT workers by 2019/2020, up-skilling is unquestionably essential – so where do we begin?
This is where universities and government are looking UK-wide to establish successful tech hubs that bring together SMEs and innovators in a spirit of collaboration – sharing new ideas, and building strategic partnerships.
As a ‘Digital Dozen’ ambassador for UK Tech event Digital 2015, I firmly believe in the power that these events have in terms of bringing entrepreneurs and thought-leaders together to establish meaningful relationships and inspire the next generation of digital thinkers.
Giving people the opportunity to learn about digital skills in the company of prospective employers, recruiters and training companies is a step in the right direction. Raising awareness of opportunities in digital industries and talking about the potential of technology will encourage people take ownership of their futures, follow their entrepreneurial instincts, and enter the digital sphere.
Based in South Wales, which is the fastest growing tech hub in Europe, Schoop has benefited from being a part of Tech Nation Alliance Partner. I had no idea there were so many bright and blooming tech companies right on my doorstep that we can learn from, and grow together. There are similar alliance partners throughout the UK.
Bodies like the ESTNet (The Electronic and Software Technologies Network for Wales) have also launched campaigns to help upskill ‘work ready graduates’ in partnership with technology companies, local universities and the Welsh Government.
Projects like these give companies the opportunity to employ an undergraduate from the electronic engineering or computer science departments at leading universities to work on a project specific to the business. Perfect! This is exactly the kind of initiative we discussed at Number 10.
Can education and the UK government do more?
There is definitely room for improvement. Events and collaborative tech-hubs need to gather momentum, and continue to become bigger and brighter beacons that inspire future generations.
If these kinds of events and projects continue to be rolled out, and keep their funding, then those undergraduates can go back to university and drive the changes required in the curriculum. Education should be prepared to learn something back.
by Paul Smith, Founder & CTO, Schoop
via The Guardian
When used properly by schools and other organisations, Schoop can significantly reduce the debilitating administrative workload that teachers and other educators face, which the above article discusses.
To arrange demo of Schoop, please click here.
Alternatively, download the Schoop app for free and enter 123 when prompted for an ID – this is our demo account, which will show you exactly how Schoop can work for your organisation.
Testimonials from teachers, parents, MPs, and other officials who use Schoop can be read here
Rewriting the future: Raising ambition and attainment in Welsh schools is a 2014 report that “describes the Welsh Government’s programme and its four key themes to tackle the link between poverty and educational underachievement in schools, for use in developing interventions to raise the attainment of learners living in poverty.”
Section 2 (pp. 20-22), titled ‘Family and community engagement’, deals with the already well known link between parental engagement and pupil attainment. The report emphasises how difficult it is to establish and maintain this link in so-called hard to reach areas, but goes on to say how effective such a link can be for strengthening communities and positively impacting educational practices:
Many schools in disadvantaged communities find that engaging parents/carers is one of the biggest challenges they face…Community engagement has a positive influence on learning outcomes. Schools that reach out and actively engage the community in the life of the school and the school in the life of the community have a positive impact on educational outcomes
In England, under the new Ofsted inspection framework, schools are graded on their ability to devise and implement effective parental engagement strategies. In order to obtain an outstanding judgement in terms of Leadership and Management, there must be evidence that:
The school has highly successful strategies for engaging with parents and carers, to the very obvious benefit of pupils, including those who might traditionally find working with the school difficult.
The criteria for success in this category is the same in England and Wales; family/community engagement is crucial for schools that want to achieve ‘outstanding’ rating from the inspectorate, and Schoop is an ideal tool for helping to meet this challenge.
Download the app and enter 123 when prompted for a Schoop ID to access our demo content channel and see how Schoop can work in your school or community organisation
“Research indicates that effective family and community engagement can have a positive impact on outcomes for all, but especially for learners from more deprived backgrounds. Schools should identify interventions that are effective in supporting parental and community engagement from the earliest opportunity. In particular, those in Communities First (CF) areas should look for opportunities to work with the CF Clusters. Schools’ strategies for the PDG should actively support the Learning Communities theme of the Communities First Programme and ensure that there is coherence and join-up with Families First and Flying Start provision to support families in their communities.
Parents and carers have an important role in supporting their child’s education, not just in the early years but throughout their education. Schools and regional consortia should be considering what activities schools can undertake in ensuring this message is communicated and in drawing parents into the learning process.”
Schoop reaches the “hard to reach”, and increases take up of PDG and Pupil Premium.
I’ve consulted many leaders of education, and every one of them has backed up Schoop’s ethos that sustained parental engagement can lead to positive effects on the KPIs schools strive for in attainment, behaviour and attendance of a child. Schoop can reach those that are hard to reach – particularly those with EAL or problems with written English, and with the help of the Pupil Premium for England and the Pupil Deprivation Grant for Wales, Schoop can solve a growing problem of digital inclusion, engagement and involvement like no other.
PROBLEM: The well trained gatekeeper will turn Schoop away
Schoop’s daily challenge to get through the doors of UK schools and demonstrate how we’re engaging parents of tens of thousands of children is about to get a great deal easier, but the person that answers the phone has their own ideas, and they include telling us to stop bothering the school with our crazy ideas!
- We actually want to help reach those that are deprived and those that are hard to reach
- We have a solution that could be paid for by Pupil Premium or the Pupil Deprivation Grant
- We help schools engage ALL parents and carers in the education of their children
- Schoop is multilingual and even speaks to you
- Parents and the wider school community LOVE what we do!
INDEPENDENT RESEARCH: To prove Schoop can help boost KPI results.
The 100s of UK schools we already help engage with parents is set to become 1,000s. We’ve been recognised as a leader of EdTech by TechCity and 10 Downing Street, but also because we’re independently selected as the preferred “school to home” engagement solution for the likes of Relational Schools. Their research project will be using Schoop from May 2015, and the results will offer independent data that hopefully backs up our extensive testimony from educators that Schoop is already making a difference.
HOW: Schoop will solve your parental engagement problem
For enquiries or press information, please contact Paul Smith – CEO
Along with 11 other companies from across the UK, Schoop was chosen by an impressive advisory panel that includes entrepreneurs, digital champions, and investors.
From the Pitch10 website:
A showcase of 10 – make that 12! – of the most promising digital companies in TechNation (across the UK) and representing Scotland, N Ireland, Wales, N England, S England and London. The UK is establishing itself as the world’s leading TechNation. Given talent in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and across all of England, No 10 Downing Street is pleased to host an event to showcase some of the most promising.
We’re very excited to be part of this event, and honoured to be presenting with other innovative British tech companies.
Download the app and enter 123 when prompted for a Schoop ID to access our demo content channel