Business leaders need greater influence on tech education


Skills shortage in digital expertise a barrier to maintaining the UK’s position as a tech trailblazer

Tech leaders must revolutionise the school curriculum to address the skills crisis; that’s according to a panel of experts at a round table debate at UKFast.

Lawrence Jones, CEO of hosting and colocation firm UKFast, who recently launched a recruitment drive to grow his firm by a third, believes it is essential for tech entrepreneurs to drive much-needed changes to education to bridge the concerning tech skills gap.

He said: “As business leaders, it is our responsibility to shake the curriculum up for the better.  We are driving the technology industry, and the children of today are the entrepreneurs of the future. We need to create thought-leaders and disruptors, and with a greater involvement in education we can do just that.”

A PwC Global Digital IQ Survey found that 78% of UK respondents point to a skills shortage in digital expertise as one of the main barriers to maintaining the UK’s position as a tech trailblazer.

Tomislav Simnett, director at web production agency Initforthe, agreed. He warned that teachers are not always equipped with the most up to date technical knowledge, contributing to sluggish academic improvement for careers in tech.

Simnett said: “So much of technology in education is passive. It’s partly down to the fact that teachers don’t have the technical knowledge. The sector as a whole doesn’t do very much to encourage experts to come in and help update the curriculum, so much more needs to be done here.”

John Keefe, director of emerging technologies agency Draw and Code, believed schools are not doing enough with innovative technology.  He said: “It’s not just about being able to code for example; it’s being able to think and apply yourself to tech. It’s this lack of applying the knowledge that is creating the problem. Children aren’t learning how to use tech, or how to make greater use of it as a career path, and this is exactly why tech leaders should step in. It’s the thinking that’s so important and being able to apply yourself to the technology and learn those much-needed skills.”

Meanwhile, Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist, who educates, informs and inspires businesses about tech trends, questioned the current use model of technology in classrooms: “There’s always been this perception that kids are hooked on screens; I think this is absolute nonsense. It’s not that they just need screens putting in front of them; it’s about physical interaction with technology.

“Learning by tinkering is the best way to learn. This is what tech business leaders can bring to education. Physical interaction with technology, not just screens,” Cheesewright stated.

Cloud infrastructure firm UKFast and education provider The Dean Trust are joining forces to improve outcomes for students in tech and digital and to meet the skills challenges of northern England. UKFast is supporting the development of hands-on tech curriculum in The Dean Trust’s schools across Greater Manchester.

The comments were made at a round table event held by cloud and colocation firm UKFast, at UKFast Campus in Manchester.


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