In this guest post Sarah Davies, head of higher education and student experience at Jisc, explains why a tech career does not have to be daunting
To some people a ‘tech career’ could seem daunting, with many perceiving technology based careers as mathematical, analytical and highly technical. Even just the word ‘technology’ carries a certain stereotype – but what does it really mean?
The Oxford dictionary states that the definition of technology is ‘the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry’. The reality is that many of us are working with technology every day and don’t even realise we’re doing it.
From my point of view, I’ve always felt like I worked in the education sector but I utilised technology. I’ve worked in technology-enhanced learning for more than 20 years and always embraced learning about new developments and technologies. It means my job is different every single day and I’m continuously learning.
Technology is a huge priority for the UK Government, with the Chancellor Philip Hammond recently announcing in his Autumn Statement there will be £2 billion invested for technology and science research and development.
At Jisc, we work with UK universities to help them effectively use the latest technology to support their teaching and research. Digital technology has transformed research in most disciplines over the last 20 years, from genetics to history.
To support their learning and prepare them for a career in today’s digital world, students need to be inspired by digitally skilled staff showcasing modern technology-enabled practices. They also need to be exposed to the same technology that the working world offers. Over the years, I’ve been surprised by the extent to which the least likely subjects have embraced technology – including some really impressive uses of augmented reality in ceramics teaching.
Through our work with the higher education sector, we hope to develop the next generation of a technology-enabled workforce and plug the digital skills gap we’re all too aware of in the UK. Technology is crucial for student employability and it’s vital that we educate people to understand the potential – and risks – of new technology and use it to their advantage.
Working in technology could be anything from modelling traffic flow and footfall for the development of sustainable cities, to developing healthcare technology, or designing the digital musical instruments of the future.
Obviously not everyone will develop these kinds of in-depth, specialised technological skills, but everyone needs an understanding of some of the fundamental creative and analytical ways in which technology is used across professions from logistics to marketing, and an idea of how to develop deeper skills in relevant areas. Perhaps we have reached the point where we are all ‘working in tech’ now.