Independent research published today (15 July 2019) by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) suggests that providers and staff in the Further Education and Training sector are confident that they will be ready to deliver the revised Basic Digital Skills entitlement in 2020.

The report, prepared by BMG Research, assesses the skills needs of the FE workforce that will deliver the new entitlement and its awareness of what the changes mean. Its results are informing the work the ETF has been commissioned to do to help prepare providers.

Overall, those surveyed reported feeling positive about the standards set out in the new entitlement, saying that they are more relevant to the way technology is used now and predicting a strong uptake of courses by learners.

The report also suggests that there should be a strong workforce to deliver the new entitlement; more than half (57%) of respondents reported that between 1 and 5 employees at their organisation are delivering the current basic digital skills as their main function, and a further 44% said a similar number do as part of their role.

Respondents’ confidence in their ability to deliver the new entitlement – either now or by the time it is introduced – was also fairly strong. Local Authority employees reported feeling particularly aware of, and prepared for, the change. The research also identified a strong commitment amongst these individuals to maintaining and developing their skills.

The preparatory work that needs to be done before the entitlement is introduced was underlined by the survey. Some staff reported feeling they would benefit from training in digital media editing skills, cloud-based applications and video conferencing. They also expressed a desire to remain up to date on online safety by undertaking CPD regularly. Concern was also evident about the curriculum content being clarified, assessment being consistent and access to appropriate tools and sufficiently-strong WiFi being available.

Vikki Liogier, the ETF’s Head of Learning Technologies, said:

“With the Basic Digital Skills entitlement remaining unchanged for more than a decade, the new support will be a substantial, positive development on the current help provided to adults. The evolved focus of the entitlement – towards things like cyber commerce and identity security – better reflects the way contemporary society uses digital technologies. Although some providers have evolved what they have taught, it also presents some new challenges for teachers and tutors.

“This report highlights that, while there is widespread confidence across the sector that it will be ready to deliver the new Basic Digital Skills entitlement next year, there is still some preparation to be done and some anxieties to address. Having been tasked by Government with undertaking that preparation, the Education and Training Foundation will be working hard with its chosen delivery partner to ensure the sector is ready.”

Charlynne Pullen, the ETF’s Head of Research and Evaluation, added:

“This research builds on ETF research including the 2018 Training Needs Analysis and Staff Individualised Record Data Insights. In doing so, it contributes to the body of high-quality workforce data for the Further Education and Training sector that the ETF creates, growing our understanding of the sector and ensuring we provide effective CPD.”

The primary research was carried out in January and February 2019. Its findings are based on analysis of secondary data, a survey of 76 provider organisations, and in-depth interviews with staff at seven Local Authority education services, two FE Colleges, and two Independent Training Providers. The report is available on the Research page of the ETF website.

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