Microsoft Confirms What We Already Expected – UK students are self-learning at home

This post was originally posted my old blog format and has been reposted in the new look website.

The majority of students in the UK are not being taught the necessary IT skills to prepare them for future employment, according to research carried out by Microsoft (see notes to editors for detailed research). The Microsoft Education Future Workforce research found that ‘Generation Five’ (16 to 18-year-olds currently in education) question the approach taken by schools in teaching them about technology and are becoming self-taught on home computers. Overall the research results, revealed at BETT 2011, highlight the need for better communication between students, teachers and businesses to ensure the next generation to enter the workforce are appropriately skilled.

The research found that 71% of the 1,000 16 to 18-year-olds surveyed agree that they learn more about technology outside of the classroom, with 58% believing that they have a greater level of understanding of IT than their teachers. The majority of students (85%) also think that their own use of the internet outside of school provides the most important source of information about technology and only 39% of students believe their school’s investment in technology really gives them the skills they need for future work.

For the first time, there are now four generations in the workforce: the Traditional Generation (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980) and the Millennial Generation / Generation Y (1981-1999), which creates unique challenges as each generation has its own characteristics, aspirations and preferred work styles. Microsoft’s study aims to highlight the importance of skilling the next generation due to enter the workforce and engage with today’s schools and businesses to ensure Generation Five (18 year olds and younger currently in education) integrate their IT skills into future organisations effectively.

“These results reveal a major concern for businesses if schools are not equipping students with the appropriate skills and knowledge for future employment,” said Steve Beswick, Senior Director of Education at Microsoft UK. “The world has changed and is continuing to change. People are learning, communicating and working in different ways and education and businesses need to adapt in order to survive. The education sector has not been immune to recent budget cuts, but this is a time to transform education, re-invest in technology and integrate IT into every aspect of the classroom. We still need to encourage the development of skills at home, but ensure that within the school environment itself students are also engaging with each other and being taught the necessary skills for the future.“

Dan Scarfe from Dot Net Solutions said, “There is a definite knowledge gap between what skills students believe they need for future employment and what businesses consider valuable. A basic knowledge of IT and skills, such as collaboration, research and presentation is an essential component for any employee seeking work and we need to engage with students, via their teachers, at a young age so they are aware of this importance. If students are teaching themselves at home then businesses will not be aware of the skills they’re developing and more importantly we won’t be able to prepare them for joining the organisation. We want better communication with our future employees to ensure that it is a smooth transition as each new generation comes of age to work.”

Terry Fish, Headteacher of Twynham School said of the Microsoft research: “There are real challenges for schools and employers at the moment. These are young people who simply look at the world in a slightly different way. Regardless of the business decisions, young people today have a greater autonomy due to their approach to the internet and communication technology. Nothing is going to change this and so we either embrace that or not. Any schools, colleges or employers that fail to adapt will be outshone by those that do in the years to come.”

Microsoft is available at BETT 2011 on stands D30 and D40.

Additional Microsoft Education Future Workforce research results


Are we teaching teachers the correct skills to pass on to their students? Is technology an integrated component of the classroom or simply ignored until the specific ICT lesson?

Only 39% of students believe that their schools investment in technology really gives them the skills they need for work and 58% of Generation Five feel that generally know more about technology than their teachers
46% believe that collaborating online is a useful way to complete school assignments
61% feel that technology in the classroom helps students perform tasks more efficiently and 55% feel it helps them gain skills to pass exams
82% use Facebook on a daily basis, 57% use email to communicate with friends and family and 48% use mobile phones on a daily basis – only 20% use social networking to collaborate on school projects, only 8% use formulas on a spreadsheet in Excel and only 4% build websites from scratch
41% feel that basic PC IT skills are important to employers whereas only 28% believe that creativity is important

Business / IT:

Is the business world prepared for the skills and opportunities that Generation Five can bring? The students of today bring with them a wealth of knowledge about technology including social media and collaboration tools, as well as enthusiasm for the use of technology. Is the workforce adapting to this new generation in order to remain competitive in an increasingly difficult market? Are the skills schools provide too basic for future employment?

54% feel they understand well what skills employers in their chosen fields want from new employees
Few students are familiar with business technology, whereas nearly all are familiar with desktop applications (99% with email, 97% with word processing, but only 39% are familiar with web design and programming and 7% with CRM, 6% with ERP and 67% with security)
16-18 year olds imagine a collaborative, technology-enabled workplace in the future – 53% believe that collaborating online is good preparation for the workplace

Russell Dyas

 I am a technologist.. I am a geek.. Who has a passion for providing honest advice, sharing resources and connecting people and ideas together. Currently working for Rencore.