Embracing EdTech: The key to solving the digital skills gap in the UK

Posted on Thursday 30th of June 2022

The opportunity to embrace technology in the higher education sector is unequivocal. From automated data analysis, personalised online learning, to VR and beyond – EdTech firms are the catalyst to help universities transform their student’s experience, solve the digital skills gap, and cement the UK’s status as global leader in education and technology innovation.

London Tech Week speaker on EdTech

Speakers at London Tech Week on Exploring new EdTech Opportunities

If students are the most important stakeholder, then teachers are the most powerful and the UK must innovate now by embracing EdTech collaboration. Meeting student’s demand for new digital learning experiences, the higher education sector still has a long way to go, according to industry experts speaking on a panel session, The EdTech Sector: Exploring new Opportunities in Global EdTech Markets at London Tech Week earlier this month.

“There is huge power in the way higher education institutions support the roll out of EdTech with partnerships between universities” – Simon Nelson

It goes without saying technology has transformed every sector across the globe but there are many more opportunities to embrace these developments across the entire education sector, particularly in higher education.

Panellists unanimously agreed that EdTech is the key to equitable developments and access to future-proofing learning experiences across education. Commenting on the power of digital transformation and opening the session, Century Tech, Founder and CEO Priya Lakhani said: “Technology adoption and digital experience were accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic and arguably forced the largest educational technology experiment in history.”

She explained the urgent need for artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technology to be adopted and used in supporting the human interaction (HI) in classrooms. “More personalised, more accessible and life-long learning will continue to grow and be expected,” she said.

Innovation: It’s now or never  

QA Higher Education, Chief Executive, Simon Nelson discussed the necessity for the UK to augment and embrace learning experiences with digital transformations. He said: “The UK has never been better positioned to work with the rest of the world to transform access to education. We are seeing the growing global [and national] skills crisis that we need talent for.”

Nelson nodded to the UK as the “world leading higher education” sector but admitted there is a need for this to be further unlocked “to increase access to the vast global demand and massive mismatch of supply and demand.”

He added: “There is huge power in the way higher education institutions support the roll out of EdTech with partnerships between universities. We are able to move faster in more agile ways and help the tech companies innovate whilst diversifying our student’s learning experiences.”

UK powerhouse – “the time is now”

In 2020, the UK EdTech sector grew by 72% and is now valued at an estimated £3.2 billion, according to data released by the Digital Economy Council. The UK EdTech industry is one of the fastest growing in Europe with more than 1,000 EdTech firms for the first time ever. Panellists agreed the immense opportunity to further embrace technology is significant.

“We need to work together to ensure we don’t disrupt each other, it needs to work in partnership” – Simon Nelson

Nelson said: “The time is now to embrace digital here in the UK, we’ve never been better positioned to work with the rest of the world to transform access to education.

“EdTech is fundamental in transforming education from access to inclusivity – the ability to remove barriers such as financial or with flexible studying options – as well as supporting and innovating in new ways that the industry hasn’t before seen.

“Old world and new world need to work together to break the fundamental barriers in place,” Simon explained: “we need to work together to ensure we don’t disrupt each other, it needs to work in partnership – it’s an exciting place to be.”