Parents claim soft skills are needed for future of work

Industry body TechUK has found parents are optimistic about their children’s future job opportunities, but many believe a focus on soft skills is needed

Parents believe there should be a focus on soft skills in education to cater to the future world of work, according to industry body TechUK.

In research among parents working in the technology sector, the industry body found 65% of those with children between the ages of five and 17 felt there should be a greater focus on soft skills at primary and secondary school.

Almost 65% of parents in tech careers were optimistic about the future job opportunities their children would have, but TechUK CEO Julian David pointed out a focus on relevant skills would be needed to take advantage of the UK’s position as a “leader in tech innovation”.

“Tech parents are confident that their children will have good opportunities for interesting and rewarding work as the economy becomes ever more digital. But they are also very clear that having the right skills will be key. Education policy and life-long learning provision needs to meet the needs of a fast-moving, fast-changing labour market that ensures opportunities for all,” said David. 

As automation replaces some repetitive roles, people are increasingly expected to have soft skills for the more technical roles. But parents are also concerned about the technical skills schools are providing to their children, with 73% of parents saying the current curriculum does not teach the types of skills that will be needed in the future world of work – one that is set to be more digital.

David emphasised the need for a focus on soft skills in schools.

“We need a more balanced approach to the curriculum – one that supports knowledge-based learning, whilst also nurturing skills such as critical-thinking and teamwork. Creativity will be a key differentiator in a knowledge economy, and these subjects must be properly supported,” he said.

Many believe the workplace is moving towards a model of continuous learning as a result of technology change, and 90% of parents in tech believe their children will have to retrain several times throughout their lives to keep up with the high pace of change in the tech landscape.

Computing curriculum lacks relevance

The UK’s computing curriculum was developed in 2014 to help provide children with the digital skills they will need for the future workplace, but many believe the curriculum is inflexible and does not teach the right skills for an automated future.

“We need a more balanced approach to the curriculum – one that supports knowledge-based learning, whilst also nurturing skills such as critical-thinking and teamwork”
Julian David, TechUK

Teachers also struggle to deliver the curriculum, and are unable to give children careers advice to a lack of knowledge about the depth and breadth of roles available in the industry. Some 78% of parents working in the tech industry claimed their children’s schools were failing to give pupils good careers advice.

“Policymakers also need to be radical in their approach to adult education, and work with industry to ensure that future workforces are encouraged and supported to retrain and upskill,” said David.

“We need greater focus on relevant education and skills for both our young people and workers who need to reskill throughout their lives. Adapting the curriculum to ensure young people today are equipped for the jobs of tomorrow is absolutely vital,” he added.

Many parents are trying to provide children with an education they think will give them the best skillset for the future.

Almost 70% of parents working in tech said they were making decisions about their children’s education based on the pace of change in the workforce, as many believe the workplace will change drastically in the next few decades.

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