Sam Willson, Senior Account Executive - UKI Further Education, Skills & Training, Canvas at Instructure

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need for Further Education providers to prepare students for an unpredictable and fast changing workplace. The employment market is in flux, and as businesses cope with the double whammy of a global pandemic and the relentless march of automation, the need for skilled, adaptable and capable employees - able to make an immediate impact on the workforce – has never been greater.

Indeed, all eyes are on educators –particularly those in Further Education – as the economy recovers and rebuilds. The Prime Minister has already said that his government is prioritising the training and skills system, through initiatives like the Lifetime Skills Guarantee (giving adults the chance to take free college courses) and new entitlement to flexible student loans.

However, as well as more government support and an injection of funding, we believe there are some fundamental changes the FE sector can make to teaching and learning - to support a post-Covid economic recovery and to prepare students for a changing, automated, business landscape.

A soft spot for soft skills

Some studies, including data from Instructure, suggest that there is a ‘‘soft skills crisis’’ facing UK businesses. Soft skills - defined as a cluster of productive personality traits which include collaboration, communication abilities, teamwork and leadership traits - are increasingly valued by businesses but overlooked by educators due to focus on ‘hard’ academic standards.

If students are to be employable post-education, educators now need to prioritise building the kind of critical thinking and emotional intelligence skills that currently form the gap between humans and artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, educators must lay the groundwork for these skills to continue developing and changing over a lifetime, as tech continues to march forward.

Good teaching already incorporates a focus on critical thinking, but prioritising this skill further as part of pedagogy is an essential part of this drive, and can be infused throughout all disciplines (even the most practical courses) by using in-depth evaluation techniques, and enabling more independent study. And soft skills like communication and teamwork can be driven through providing the right tools for collaboration – both off and online.

The critical role of tech

The second piece of the puzzle is in harnessing technology. While it might seem counterintuitive to say that adding more technology is the best way to offset technology in the workplace rendering certain skill sets obsolete, it’s true. In short, EdTech is exactly what’s needed to help prepare students for an automated world.

And while tailored courses in specific areas of tech development – like the new Certificate in Robotics and Automation – will help to plug an immediate (and wider) skills gap, it’s the use of broader, institution-wide, EdTech that will really help in the quest to create multi skilled and adaptable students, ready to deal with the challenges both automation and a recovering, changing, workforce brings.

Accessing information and knowledge through diverse technological media – everything from academic journals to social media – affects learning itself. It calls for, and facilitates, a learning approach that is more self-directed, and an environment that welcomes independent discovery It encourages collaboration too, helping students learn from peers, as well as establish direct links with employers and industry. Of course, self-directed learning is not just a skill to prepare young people for a career – it also continues when in the workplace.

However, for any shift of this nature to work, educators and students must be allowed to take on quite different roles. Students are no longer passive participants in their education. Instead, they must be empowered, confident, and self-directed. And the value of teaching staff isn’t always as content creators, but curators of information; facilitating the student’s learning journey and helping to create better continuity between education and in-work training. This is something that FE providers are already very good at – and now they have the opportunity to lead the way, showing other facets of education how it can be done.

Ultimately, all this means that technology can no longer be viewed as a luxury in education, rather an all-important necessity. Institution-wide learning management platforms can help teachers deliver more flexible, progressive, and student-centred learning that can meet the demands of both the modern education environment and the changing business world. We know that it's going to be a challenging time for both educators and businesses – but we believe that the determination, passion and knowledge of the FE sector means that the future is bright.

Sam Willson, Senior Account Executive - UKI Further Education, Skills & Training, Canvas at Instructure

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page