One thing the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of having an adaptable, tech-savvy workforce.
For many organisations, significant changes were made during the first lockdown to move to doing business in a very different way, often by working remotely, or online, or by changing product lines and delivery models. In many sectors, multinationals and start-ups alike were suddenly being run from kitchen tables and over Zoom.
For the workforce, this often meant not only adapting to new ways of working, but also using new technology to maintain productivity. Companies that were able to respond swiftly and seemingly effortlessly were those already on their way towards adopting new communication technologies or already used to adapting to changing demands in their industries.
So far, it seems that the nimblest businesses came out on top. For many it has been a massive step change – creating a new normal from which many predict there will be no going back.
Beyond the immediate crisis, employers are getting a sense of how important it is to have people in your business with high-level technical skills. One example of how educators are already gearing up to meet future demand is the Yorkshire and Humber Institute of Technology (IOT), based at East Riding College in Beverley. The IOT is under construction, but already training its students in the higher-level skills that the tech keyworkers of the future will need.
There is already a shortage of people with so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills in the wider workforce and the past year has demonstrated the value of those skills.
The role of digital technology in communications both at work and in wider society has come to the fore. It is ever more important that our digital world is reliable, responsive and secure. The reliance on our IT infrastructure and tech-trained staff has reminded us as individuals of the crucial role technology already plays in most of our lives.
Similarly, our engineering and manufacturing sectors showed that with higher level skills and advanced tech, our industries can meet demands for new designs and adapt to support the manufacture of rapidly developed components. Who could forget the army of 3D printers that emerged and were immediately set to work across the country to help manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential parts for respirators?
The online grocery sector responded to enormous increases demand within a matter of weeks – using technology to aid distribution and efficiency of delivery.
Most essentially, digital health tech has become the norm – from checking symptoms to booking tests and registering vaccines online.
The Yorkshire & Humber Institute of Technology is already training the tech key workers of the future, working closely and collaboratively with employers, colleges and universities to ensure the provision of high quality, higher-level technical skills in the region, giving its students and their employers the flexibility and resilience to adapt in the future.
- For more information, visit eastridingcollege.ac.uk/iot