Cindy Rampersaud

There has been much discussion about the future of work following the COVID-19 pandemic, reimagining how work is done, the future role of the office, and the digital economy are some of the discussions we are having.

But where and what are the job opportunities of the future for young people and adults?

What industries are forecast to grow, what job roles will be created and what skills will be needed?

And how do we prepare young people and adults for job roles in the areas of demand?

The importance of key workers in society 

What COVID-19 has highlighted is the crucial role of key workers to society, individuals who are likely to have followed a vocational pathway such as BTEC and acquired their valuable knowledge and skills from the FE sector.

Over the past few weeks and months, we’ve seen how these key workers have served their communities and protected economies, particularly those working in the public sector and especially in health and social care, the emergency services, the armed services, transportation, utilities and the supply and distribution of food. It is in these sectors where future job opportunities exist and where the demand for sector-based knowledge, skills and transferable skills is forecast to grow.  

With around 950,000 new adult social care jobs needed by 2035, and the King’s Fund suggesting the NHS workforce gap could reach almost 250,000 by 2030, learners studying health and social care could have a bright future ahead of them.  Today, there is a shortage of over 100,000 full-time equivalent staff in the NHS and a further 122,000 in adult social care. 

The same is true for the engineering sector. The next generation of engineers will be crucial to meeting the Government’s plans to ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘level up’ the UK as we recover from the impact of Coronavirus on our economy. Experts forecast that around 203,000 people with engineering skills are needed every year and it will be these learners who will help build the next generation of hospitals, schools and roads. Many future jobs will also exist in the construction sector - around 168,500 construction jobs will be created by 2023 - and in public services, transportation and supply and logistics sectors.    

The FE sector plays a vital role in preparing young people and adults for these careers and it is great to see its contribution and the value of the sector and vocational qualifications being more widely recognised and celebrated.  BTECs are a vital route into the health and social care sector with 1 in 4 candidates accepted by nursing degree programmes having either a BTEC Level 3 National in Health and Social Care or Applied Science. They are also a vital route into the engineering sector with over 60,000 learners in the past three years completing a BTEC Level 3 National in Engineering and entering the workforce.   

Supporting digital learning 

In order to prepare young people and adults with the knowledge and skills they need for the careers of the future, we need to make sure skills-training is relevant, accessible, modular and flexible.

Especially for young people and adults in careers that may be impacted by COVID-19 and who must reskill or upskill.  Pearson Learning Hub, our digital learning platform, offers bite-size and mobile-optimised learning content that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. 

Our current content supports customers delivering apprenticeships, employee development and skills training and it also hosts courses supporting the BTEC Level 3 National in Sport, courses in Artificial Intelligence for Leaders, Artificial Intelligence De-mystified and Digital Technology De-mystified. 

More recently we’ve made our BTEC Explorer courses available directly to learners looking to explore or find out more about career opportunities in an industry sector. They give learners an opportunity to choose which learning solution is best for them – to learn in college or on their own at home. 

Emerging industries  

As we adapt to new ways of living and working, the demand for skills in emerging industries will grow. At Pearson, we’ve been doing a lot of work on our product strategy, looking at how we can invest in developing content, curriculum and learning to prepare learners for job roles in emerging industries.  Agri-tech, e-commerce, augmented reality, robotics, automotive, automation and e-learning are all industries predicted to grow.

The need for learners to have transferable skills that are relevant to many different sectors is also essential and BTEC provides these.  An example of this is the launch of our new Esports BTEC qualification.

The Esports industry is one of the fastest growing across the world and this year will grow by 20% to circa $1.1 billion with a global audience of over 495 million. Our Level 3 BTEC in Esports has been developed to meet the needs of young people and adults who wish to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to pursue a career in esports, video games, tech or other related sectors in the UK and across the world.

The learning and content of the BTEC in Esports will also support learners to develop a range of transferable skills and knowledge that can be applied to a wide range of careers, across numerous sectors including digital and STEM-based careers.  This is especially valuable in a changing world where job roles are likely to continue to change and the emphasis is increasingly on flexibility, adaptability and transferable skills. The curriculum follows a modular approach, allowing young people and adults to engage in bite-size learning, take up short courses or a full 2-year programme. 

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, at Pearson our focus will be on continuing to engage with the FE sector and employers to update our learning provision to prepare young people and adults with the knowledge and skills needed for the jobs of the future. We will also continue to make our learning content more accessible and flexible, so young people and adults can learn where they want and when they want, to make progress in their careers and in their lives. 

Cindy Rampersaud, Senior Vice President BTEC and Apprenticeships, Pearson

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