June’s industry round-ups
Courier Journal, 9 June
In this piece Ricky L. Jones points out that companies and universities should not be praised at this moment for simply putting out statements regarding the Black Lives Matter movement as this is “the easy, popular and convenient thing to do right now.” Jones argues that institutions must back statements up with promise of action and says that what is most important is “being honest about where we’ve gone wrong, asking for forgiveness and then attacking the problem with an unparalleled ferocity.”
Editorial reporting: Calls grow for black history to be taught to all English school pupils
The Guardian, 8 June
Pressure is mounting on the government to review the national curriculum and make the teaching of black history mandatory for all pupils in schools in England. Campaigners are collecting signatures for an open letter to be sent this week to Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, calling on him to make the teaching of black history compulsory in primary and secondary schools and across a range of different subject areas. The campaign, led by a group called The Black Curriculum, has attracted widespread support in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, and in light of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups. The letter states: “Thousands of us, the British voting public, are grief-stricken and concerned about the existing status quo in the UK, which disregards the lives and contributions of black British people.”
Editorial reporting: Australian government to build AU$4.3 million online microcredentials marketplace
ZDNet, 22 June
The Australian government has announced it will spend AU$4.3 million to build and run a one-stop shop online marketplace for microcredentials. According to the federal government, this marketplace will be designed to provide a nationally consistent platform to allow students to compare course outcomes, duration, mode of delivery, and credit point value. Currently, 54 providers have created 344 short online courses. As of June 22, IT short courses are the third most popular offering with 68 courses. “The microcredential marketplace will be a platform for job-seekers to see what skills they can gain by further study to help them get a new job or to get ahead in their current job,” said the Minister for Education, Dan Tehan.
New research: Looking Beyond the College Degree
Inside Higher Ed, 24 June
As the pandemic wreaks havoc on the job market, a quarter of American adults say they plan to enroll in an education or training program within the next six months, according to the latest results of a national poll conducted by the Strada Education Network. That share was 37 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds and 23 percent for 25- to 64-year-olds. But the survey also found most of the workers who said they would change fields if they lost their job due to the pandemic (35 percent of all respondents) are more interested in non-degree skills training (62 percent) than pursuing a college degree (38 percent).
THE, 17 June
This piece argues that a substantial challenge for universities across the world in the 2020s will be how they engage with a “Covid generation” who have seen their lives disproportionately disrupted by the pandemic. It argues that universities need to double their efforts to support students and engage them in university planning processes. It claims that higher education should be open to how young people might be able to re-envision universities’ purpose and practices in ways consistent with the new situation.
New research: Latest Ucas figures ‘welcome news’ for universities
University Business, 25 June
Enrolment figures released by Ucas will be “welcome news for universities”, the organisation’s chief executive has said, as it was revealed that deferral rates are lower than at this point last year. Applicants had until Thursday 18 June to choose if they wanted to accept an offer to study at university. According to Ucas, the number of applicants that hold a firm offer for an immediate start in September has risen by 1% compared to this point in last year’s admission cycle – 500,340 applicants have confirmed an offer to start their course in September, up from 494,530 at this point last year. The number of applicants choosing to defer their place has fallen by 1% this year. Deferral rates could climb in the coming months, but for now the anticipated drop in student figures has not materialised.
HR Director, 14 June
This piece argues that rather than press the pause button on closing skills gaps, COVID-19 has created an unprecedented urgency to ramp up upskilling interventions. It also argues that companies that would otherwise be business competitors need to work together with governments and learning providers to deliver public/private-backed upskilling and reskilling opportunities to rapidly get people back into jobs. Accenture recently described this collaboration as building ‘shared workforce resilience’. It claims that before the pandemic, there was demand for professionally-oriented credential offerings such as microcredentials, nanodegrees and coding camps, however COVID-19 has accelerated this.