Fadl Al Tarzi, Founder/CEO of Nexford University

Unemployment has long been a salient issue for governments and societies, especially more recently since the 2008 financial crisis turned economies and labour markets on their heads. With the unexpected arrival of the pandemic in 2020, the sudden shock to the world economy brought unemployment even higher up government agendas. Yet, following an initial increase in unemployment and temporary furlough schemes at the outbreak of the pandemic, recent news of companies struggling to fill vacant positions, threatening to slow economic recovery, while seemingly counterintuitive, have become widespread. 

While the pandemic’s effect on the supply of workers will abate over time, it should alert us to a gradual, but even more critical development in the labour market well underway - the skill gap. A natural consequence of rapid technological progress is that skills learned in workers’ formative career years become obsolete much faster and job seekers lack the skills required to work in the areas where employers are most in need. Combined with much longer professional lives and a 20th century educational system, it is hard to deny the clear gap between the supply and demand of skills in the labour market.

In a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey, nine in ten managers stated their companies were either already dealing with skill gaps, or expected them to develop skill-related staffing problems in the next five years. As the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs report notes, “the share of core skills that will change in the next five years is 40%, and 50% of all employees will need reskilling.” 

The scale of the challenge is hard to underestimate. 

This situation is particularly severe in the ageing societies of the most developed markets, such as the US, the UK,  and Western European countries. The skillsets most in demand relate to the new work environment shaped by digital transformation, where STEM skills are indispensable to all WEF’s top ranked 10 jobs of ‘tomorrow’ – from digital fitness to ocean tide engineering. 

Indeed, as the pandemic forced global workers online, the digital divide became even clearer. Business consultancy Oliver Wyman found that “by 2025, Germany is expected to have a shortage of some 280,000 people with STEM qualifications” and US companies took up to 66 days to hire a new tech employee in 2019 - 20 days longer than any other type of hire. 

Gen X workers often face the hardest challenge. While global trends digitising work require workers to adapt to new activities and routines,  in contrast to the younger, digitally native generation - more seasoned workers in OECD countries can often lack even basic IT skills.  

One of the few ways out of this predicament is upskilling.

Recently, the business community started to focus more on investing in workers’ mid-career education. The creation of a functional multi-generational workforce, the WEF estimates, could “raise GDP per capita by almost 19% in three decades.” Companies like Guild Education in the US, now reportedly valued at over $3.7 billion after their latest $150 million raise, focus on connecting employers with universities; to upskill their workforces. Allocating $1.2 billion from its balance sheet to invest in retaining its talent, tech-giant Amazon now offers to pay for its employees’ college tuition and other education costs.

While in-house upskilling is an option firms pursue in increasing numbers, devoting the resources to develop efficient processes can prove difficult. Shifts in the company landscape accompanying the digital transformation, means some companies are ill-suited to provide the skills, which are in high demand, to their employees. 

A solution is available in digitalisation itself. EdTech companies providing virtual upskilling and reskilling courses and services have the ability to reach different demographics and professions with precision, providing the much-needed means for experienced workers to catch up with new work environment demands.

EdTech companies also cater to workers who have become unemployed in the current tight labour market and are looking to add new skills to their CVs. By employing a business model transcending traditional company demarcations, they can perform a crucial function in creating the labour market of tomorrow. 

The Future of Work report clearly articulates that the disruptions of digital technology, deepened by the pandemic, are already beginning to take effect.

The window of opportunity to reskill and upskill workers has become shorter in the newly constrained labour market,” the report reads. If we miss the moment to act on the developing skill gap, significantly higher unemployment among experienced workers is likely over the next five to ten years. 

We must change the way we think about mid-career education. The labour market of the future will not allow for resisting technological innovation. However, it might offer new opportunities for both workers and companies that embrace its dynamism. 

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