Preparing the younger generation for the future workplace
"The world belongs to digital natives," says Ash Merchant, Education Director at Fujitsu UK&I
Posted by Julian Owen | September 07, 2018 | People
future-workplace, fujitsu-uk, ash-merchant, digital-native, smartphones, suffolk-university, brunel-university, stem

As a society, we’re increasingly feeling the importance of technology's prevalence in our education institutions.

Whether it is increasing awareness of the need for digital skills as the world of work evolves, or the expectation for digital natives to have access to the same technology they experience at home, there is an increasing need for education institutions to be more digital.

That said, change is happening. In the capital alone, 13 universities already offer degrees in AI, machine learning and other related industries. The question is whether there is enough being done to develop digital skills at an early age.

We need to engage children with these emerging technologies from a young age, and collaboration between the public and private sectors will be critical to achieving this.

Start them off early

Younger generations are growing up in a digital world. Their first phones are often smart phones, with a range of apps and functions; even toddlers are using tablets and screens to entertain themselves. We are introduced to technology from a younger age at home and expect to have the same interaction with it at work and at school. With only 33% of consumers believing that the UK is ready for a digital future, more needs to be done to make sure the people expected to inhabit it are ready.

Working with the private sector is the best way for the public sector to harness the expertise, technology and real world experience needed to keep make digital education impactful and relevant.

Not only does working with the private sector help give schools access to physical technology, but also to real world experiences and qualifications. In a partnership with examining body OCR, Fujitsu has developed a new A-Level equivalent qualification designed to prepare the next generation to become the digital workforce of tomorrow. The vocational course enables 16-18 year olds to apply their ICT, technology and mathematical knowledge through a project-based syllabus, preparing them to apply this same knowledge in their future career.

"Working in collaboration with public and private sector, using resources available from the former and tech savviness from the latter, we can help our future generations prepare for a workplace that needs the digitally intelligent."

Universities’ role in helping create the future workforce

Universities can not only help students by providing courses in higher education, they can also act as hubs to encourage the development of digital skills in the wider community. The Creative Computing Club at Suffolk University is one such example, offering pupils programmes designed to improve STEM subject learning from a younger age.

Brunel University’s innovation hub, the 26th to open in the UK, is another great example of a university helping create the future workforce. Kitted out with the best-in-class equipment, this facility will inspire and engage children in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine – areas which are short of talent in the UK.

We will, however, need to see an increase in universities providing digitally focused courses and degrees, such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, robotics and digital forensics. By providing opportunities in further education, pupils at school will have new avenues to aspire to and begin preparing for.

A shared responsibility to produce digital natives

The education sector has a duty, along with the private sector, to provide students with the best possible start in life, equipping them with the most up-to-date and relevant education. It is therefore important that education takes up the challenge for digital readiness by providing them with the necessary skills early on.

The world belongs to digital natives. Working in collaboration with public and private sector, using resources available from the former and tech savviness from the latter, we can help our future generations prepare for a workplace that needs the digitally intelligent.

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