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Education system not fit to support future work skills - report

Parents working in tech roles are not convinced that, as it stands, the education system will help prepare their children to make the most of new workplace opportunities, according to new research.

A study by industry lobby group TechUK, dubbed ‘Preparing for change: How tech parents view education and the future of work’, found that 73% said the curriculum did not place sufficient emphasis on skills that would become more vital in future work.

And 90% said their children would need to retrain throughout their lives to keep up with the pace of technological change. 

Despite recent negativity, including in retail circles, which suggests automation and new technologies will lead to the widespread destruction of jobs, the TechUK report found that parents are optimistic about what the future of work will mean for children currently at school. Some 64% were optimistic or very optimistic about the future job opportunities that would be available to their children. 

However, in order to achieve those opportunities, it was argued the educational landscape will need to evolve, with 65% of parents surveyed believing that a stronger focus on soft skills was needed.  

Julian David, CEO of TechUK, said: “As a leader in tech innovation, the UK is well placed to take advantage of new technology.

“Tech parents are confident that their children will have good opportunities for interesting and rewarding work as the economy becomes ever more digital. But they are also very clear that having the right skills will be key. Education policy and lifelong learning provision needs to meet the needs of a fast-moving, fast-changing labour market that ensures opportunities for all.” 

David also suggested that the curriculum should support knowledge-based learning while nurturing skills such as critical-thinking and team work. Creativity will be a key differentiator in a knowledge economy, so these subjects must be properly supported by the education system, he argued.

He added: “We need greater focus on relevant education and skills for both our young people and workers who need to re-skill throughout their lives.

“Adapting the curriculum to ensure young people today are equipped for the jobs of tomorrow is absolutely vital."

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