No longer a nice-to-have – EdTech is now essential for skills development
Anselm Dannecker, Iain Bain and Neil Butcher
The speed of technological change — and the need for worker skillsets to keep pace — is dizzying.Blurring lines between the physical, biological, and virtual worlds are changing the skills needed for the jobs of the future. Acquiring these skills can mean the difference between being left behind and having a promising future. And
But how can we meet this challenge?
4 million formal TVET learners worldwide. However, this belies an even greater demand outside of traditional vocational schools and training centers, with hundreds of millions of learners globally accessing training through education technology (EdTech) solutions. In our new report, we demonstrate that applying EdTech approaches can allow for a potentially game-changing disruption of TVET systems.UNESCO estimates there were around 7
Three megatrends underscore the importance of incorporating EdTech solutions. The first is a demographic transition: people will enter the TVET system at a variety of ages, so the systems will need to incorporate multi-generational learning needs. The second is the acceleration of global connectivity: TVET systems will need to cater for, and compete in, both local and global markets. And finally, expanding digitization: TVET systems can support the transition to an increasingly digital economy by facilitating a wide diffusion of skills.
Responding to these trends through the development of training programs and facilities in each country, many of which face fiscal constraints, will be an uphill battle. For instance, under current institution-based learning models, an additional 1.5 million teachers per year are needed to meet the world’s education needs. While this applies more broadly than TVET, it illustrates a significant challenge faced by developing countries.
EdTech is at the intersection of these trends and can bolster the TVET sector. Our report argues that TVET systems need to leverage the reach and personalization of learning that technology can offer. Coursera are taking the most in-demand courses offered by top universities and Big Tech partners and making them available to a global audience. From a very small startup when IFC invested, Coursera now offers job-ready skills and learning opportunities to almost 100 million learners worldwide, with over half in emerging markets., while also improving content relevance and quality by using artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to customize the learning experience. For example, digital platforms like
Duolingo, a language learning platform with over 300 million learners, captures every interaction the learner makes with the application and uses gamification to incentivize engagement and learning outcomes.For example,
With 65 percent of today’s children expected to work in jobs that do not yet exist, education and training systems need to do more to keep pace with technological change and provide access to lifelong learning pathways. The findings of this report demonstrate how integration of EdTech models in existing TVET systems can help address the skills gaps in emerging markets. For example, Korea’s Smart Training Education Platform (STEP) has created an online marketplace for accessing e-learning content and providing support for training institutions to incorporate e-learning into their programs.
The private sector and government have a common goal to pursue EdTech solutions that can prepare people for the jobs of the future. For the private sector, developing or adapting solutions to meet the needs of underserved populations can support the scale-up of their business models; for government, EdTech solutions can offer a cost-effective way to provide wider and more flexible access to skills acquisition for their workforce.