Graham Hunter, VP of Skills, CompTIA

It’s an unusual time to be talking about growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has rightly dominated our thought processes and news cycle for the better part of 2020, and the end appears to be nowhere in sight. It is, without question, too soon to talk about sector growth while people are still succumbing to this appalling illness and while our way of life has been infinitely disrupted.

Yet the quest for personal growth can never be understated as a means to give people -- including those who have lost their jobs and been furloughed -- hope, as well as opportunities to earn a living, learn new skills and participate in the comeback of the UK economy. Personal growth and skills development is also an effective, and even critical, tool to help those businesses that are still operating to safeguard their workers against loss and further disruption.

The deepest recession in more than three centuries

Unemployment in the UK currently is set to double, while the Bank of England predicts the economy could shrink by 14% in 2020, constituting the deepest recession in more than three centuries. Those who are still employed are being asked to do more with less; more people are being asked to perform dual functions to cover gaps in their workplaces left by those who are ill, who have succumbed to COVID-19, or have lost their job or been furloughed.

The change in our day-to-day situation has created unprecedented working circumstances, with around 44% of people now working from home (compared to 12% in 2019). Working from home brings with it new challenges around online communications protocol, internet access, cybersecurity, and the hardware itself.

Are most workers equipped to handle these challenges at their current skill level? The much-documented skills gap suggests they are not.

The Open University’s 2019 Bridging the Digital Divide report highlights the extent of digital skills gaps, with more than half of the working-age population of the UK lacking the digital skills needed in the workplace.

The opportunity to upskill and be more efficient

Yet, workers want more and better opportunities to learn on the job, and urgently, they want to make sure that they are effectively crisis-proof. Even prior to this pandemic, almost a quarter of tech professionals reported that they left their previous job for a position with greater training and development opportunities.

It’s clear that people want the opportunity to upskill and be more efficient, and now more than ever, a strong digital skillset is a cherished part of any worker’s toolkit. Around 82% of advertised job openings require some level of digital skills, and that number is almost certain to rise as digital workspaces become the norm for the foreseeable future. Last year the government told us that digital skills are “no longer optional”...and now we know that to be true without question.

How can workers upskill today when face-to-face opportunities are limited?

eLearning has long provided a strong option for anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and ability in a self-paced and highly immersive format. Videos, eBooks, workplace simulations and certifications let workers expand and prove their knowledge from home, and ultimately apply it where it matters: on the job.

When workers are given training and development opportunities, team morale is boosted as people who once shied away from tasks approach them with newly earned confidence. Efficiency and retention improve, and the overall security of the business is strengthened.

With fewer people now working, and millions working from home (many of them for the first time), it is more important than ever that each member of a team has the digital competency and know-how to carry out their most urgent business priorities in this new environment….even in spite of whatever unknowns may be in our collective future.

Graham Hunter, Vice President of Skills Certification EMEA at CompTIA

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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