Firms demanding more from next-gen workers


The UK's education sector took another knock this week as research revealed that businesses expect academia to do more - and earlier - to teach students the skills when they eventually enter the workforce.

As the business demand for technology skills grows, children have to grow up sooner by incorporating IT learning practices at school, placing further pressure on teachers and budgets.

It will be a case of combining the old and the new to help children get the best possible start to their education.

With an increasing trend toward business employees working remotely, recruiters are searching for candidates who have become familiar with new technologies at a younger age, according to the research published by Virgin Media Business.

Indeed, of the 5,000 companies surveyed as part of the research, some 60 per cent said, in the next few years, they plan to increase the number of employees who work remotely.

In order to prepare for this change, 42 per cent of companies feel children should be more encouraged and supported to use remote learning tools for homework. Just over as fifth (21 per cent) of businesses suggested that should extend to the classroom too, advocating that children embrace e-learning during school hours.

To ensure that the next-generation is getting the skills they will need to succeed in the workforce, 22 per cent of firms called for increased investment in school hardware for teachers.

"The Education Minister has recently announced plans to overhaul the teaching of IT in schools. A move we welcomed," said Tony Grace, chief operating officer of Virgin Media Business.

"We're already working with the LondonPSN to power a 200 million network that will change the delivery of public services in and around London.

Grace explained that portable devices like tablets are perfect for schools.

"The credit-card sized classroom computer Raspberry Pi and Apple's recent entry into the e-learning sector shows that more and more devices tailored for e-learning are going to be made available to educators," he said.

All this talk of virtualised learning environments could cause concern about the traditional bricks and mortar school becoming a thing of the past, but Grace says such worry is unnecessary and there is no real danger of classrooms being abandoned for online alternatives.

"Just as remote working will never replace companies having offices, the same is true of education. From our work with the London Grid for Learning, we're already seeing teachers implementing next generation technology in connected classrooms, creating exciting and stimulating learning environments," Grace said.

"It will be a case of combining the old and the new to help children get the best possible start to their education."

The annual report also showed that 23 per cent of employees listed a 'can do' attitude as the most important asset in new recruits, followed by specialist skills in areas such as IT (19 per cent), and higher education qualifications (12 per cent).