A recent briefing by the World Economic Forum has reported that "employers are increasingly warning of a disconnect between the skills required in the workplace and the training being provided - highlighting the need to foster more technical talent if countries want to remain competitive."
This lack of vital technical education among graduates should come as no surprise when considering the educational model of most third-level institutions. At universities and colleges, students earn their degrees through a specific department and have minimal contact, if any, with other spheres of learning or areas of expertise. Indeed many university departments are insecure about allowing their students to access other departments, as funding often depends on student numbers.
The natural outcome of siloing knowledge in this manner is that, inevitably, English graduates will qualify without even the most basic IT skills, while law students can go their entire undergrad without ever encountering an Excel sheet.
While students lose out on a varied education during their time at university due to this pigeonholing, the real-world effects are longer-term and much more serious. This lack of technical expertise among graduates negatively impacts their careers by limiting their opportunities in the labour market.
At Alison, we know that the requirements of today's job market mean that a university degree is too one dimensional a qualification to guarantee success. The WEF briefing makes it clear that there needs to be "modifications to education and training systems... to re-align global talent pipelines with market needs." We offer our students limitless access to all of our various course categories because we understand that cookie-cut degrees aren't enough to succeed in a world where technology constantly changes the requirements necessary to fill a position.
We know that English graduates will need tech skills to gain employment and that engineers will need business acumen to secure jobs. Our courses are open to everyone regardless of experience or previous qualifications.
Traditional Institutions are Failing to Adapt
The failure of traditional institutions to provide a multi-faceted education, or at least offer students the opportunity to expand their skill set, stems as much from their dated views on technical education as it does from their lack of vision. Students' job prospects are suffering because colleges and universities think it beneath them to impart these crucial skills, making the difference between getting or missing out on a job.
The WEF reports that "technical and vocational education and training is underutilised, and often treated with neglect by education systems as a second-best option." As an online learning platform, we know all about lazy opinions in the education industry. Many educational establishment's uncritical and dismissive assumptions about technical education are also levelled at online learning.
Limitless Access means Well-Rounded Learners
However, at Alison, we know that our reputation speaks for itself. Our learning model puts zero restrictions on students learning the skills they need to succeed and accessing the resources necessary to advance their careers. Our 20 million learners and 3,5 million graduates who successfully navigate the job market as rounded Alison learners prove that our model is working.
In their Education Strategy 2014-2021, UNESCO noted that "more needs to be done to better balance the focus… between academic training, and technical and vocational education and training." At Alison, we've never had to be told that technical skills are fundamental to securing a job in the workplaces of today. Our focus is always on the needs of our learners, and our sole ambition is to help our learners fulfil theirs.