Posted on August 18, 2016 by staff

Education system ‘broken’ when it comes to tech


The education system is broken when it comes to technology.

That was one of the key findings of a Manchester roundtable made up of education and business experts.

The UK has been slow to prioritise coding and other technical skills on the national curriculum compared with nations such as the US and Sweden.

Estonia, for example, has embedded tech into every part of its education system, and is now considered a world leader in the sector.

The skills gap is now being felt by businesses across the board – and it seems to be widening.

“Universities are criticised for not producing the kind of graduates that we need, but there are thousands of companies and it is difficult to match the requirements of them all,” said Paul Bason, digital innovation director at Manchester Metropolitan University.

“I’ll be frank – I think the university model is broken when it comes to the tech sector, and the reason I say that is because it moves so quickly.

“If you’re a historian, you can read all the books that exist then channel that knowledge in a particular way to students.

“[In tech] there’s a smaller development cycle and shorter time for lecturers to understand new tech.

“It’s not that people are not competent – there just isn’t enough time to get to know this stuff.”

Steve Pettifer, director of teaching strategy at the school of computer science at the University of Manchester, said students deserve to be equipped with skills suitable for the workplace.

“The challenge these days is to produce graduates who are fit for the employment market,” he said.

“Students pay considerable amounts of money for their education today so we have to make sure that they’re employable and get the kind of jobs they’re looking for.

“Computers have been around for 50, 60, 70 years; most graduates will now be working for another 50 years – so the idea that we can give them all the knowledge that they will possibly need for that time is bonkers.

“The world will change enormously. All we can do is focus on the fundamentals, get students to engage with the latest developments through hackathons and competitions and contact with industry.

“But it takes a lot of work to get tech partnerships between universities and tech companies.”

Martin Bryant, community editor at Tech North, agrees.

“The education sector doesn’t always feel like it’s geared up for what’s to come,” he said.