Less than a tenth of job vacancies within UK EdTech companies is within an academic remit – with new hires instead focussed around competitive, growth and sales opportunities such as technology (44%), marketing (21%) and sales/go-to-market (12%).
The findings come from a report by leading recruiter Robert Walters and data provider Vacancysoft – EdTech: The Hyper Accelerator.
The report highlights how technology has proven to be the biggest disruptor to the education sector in the UK, reshaping the way education is delivered to school pupils in the past year – where around 11 million school-aged children were asked to stay at home and undertake their education remotely.
RESISTANCE FROM TEACHERS
According to a Robert Walters poll of EdTech CEO’s and Founders, the biggest resistance of EdTech take-up in schools prior to the pandemic has been; cost of implementation (52%), time required to train up teachers (47%), preference of traditional educational methods (39%), assumptions of new methods increasing workloads (33%), and fear of job replacement (21%).
However, by the time the third lockdown came around compulsory parameters were set for teaching to be delivered remotely – with technology at the very heart of the solution. Schools have been expected to provide remote education that includes either recorded or live direct teaching for the minimum of:
- 3 hours a day for Key Stage 1 (years 1 and 2 when pupils are aged between 5 and 7)
- 4 hours a day for KS2 (years 3-6 when children are aged between 7 and 11)
- 5 hours a day for KS3 and KS4 (secondary school up to age 16)
David Roberts, CEO of global EdTech firm KidsLoop, comments:
“The transition from offline to online has been a 20+ year organic behavioural change, and so it was only a matter of time before it took effect in one of the world’s oldest and most prominent industries – education.
“In the UK, the biggest barrier to the uptake of EdTech to date has primarily been around the cost & time associated with teacher retraining. However, during lockdown teachers had no choice but to become accustomed to EdTech tools and by and large learnt on-the-job.
“On the whole, the UK is early on in its journey of embedding technology into its education system – but now that the doors have been opened, we move increasingly closer to hybrid classrooms with the help of optimised learning platforms.”
IMPROVEMENT IN ACCESSIBILITY
In developing nations across the world, EdTech has been praised for the way in which it has broken down barriers which typically prevent marginalised groups for accessing education.
From teachers being able to digitally deliver lessons to a room full of children in remote villages, to digital content which is easy to translate to mother tongues, and providing tailored solutions to students with disabilities or distinct educational needs
In the UK we saw from the sudden emergence of remote learning, the vast differences in accessibility to what the western world class as its most basic needs.
To help aid remote schooling, the UK government pledged to deliver one million laptops to schools, colleges and FE providers – as part of a £300 million wider investment during the pandemic in access to remote education which includes identifying and helping those children without access to internet data.
David Roberts adds:
Younger generations are increasingly becoming more accustomed to information being presented in a variety of ways & mediums – in particular digitally – and so the shift towards EdTech will only continue. Children & young people are much more digitally literate these days and so are more comfortable with using tech in their day-to-day lives, so much so that for them learning from just books alone may almost seem archaic.
“The drive for a more personalised and tailored experience has too pushed up the demand for EdTech. For so long education has been a very linear process – led by a standardised curriculum and taught in a universal manner. However outside of education a much bigger transition has been happening in the world – products which service our day-to-day lives; from shopping, meeting new people, and watching TV have become more personalised and choice-based.
“Take Netflix, for example, who deliver just one service to a global customer base – streaming TV & film. Through the power of data and algorithms, each Netflix account is tailored towards the user’s preferences and personal choice – making the service feel wholly unique and much more useful to them. As the expectation for choice-based products and services only grows, so too will the demand for optimised and tailored EdTech solutions.”
GOVERNMENT TOO SLOW TO INVEST
However, slow investment by the government prior to the pandemic means that there are only 600 EdTech companies in the UK – representing just 5% of the total technology market in the country, and 8% globally – paling in comparison to the USA where 43% of EdTech’s are headquartered.
Globally the EdTech market is valued at over $250bn, with the UK market taking a $3bn slice out of that. In fact, growth of the UK market exploded by 72% – against a global backdrop of 18% growth.
Despite this being a growing area of focus for many other booming economies, the UK government’s commitment to EdTech can be traced back to as recently as June 2019 when the EdTech Leadership Group was formed.
The programme, a mere £10million investment into the EdTech Strategy, aimed to build the evidence base to ensure that technology meets the needs of teachers, lecturers, pupils and students and to test and scale EdTech products – both new and existing – that could have a substantial impact to help save teachers time and improve pupil outcomes. The move was a sign illustrating how early the country is in its adoption of technology into the education system.
As a result London’s EdTech market relies heavily on external funding – where it ranks just 8th in the world according Dealroom – with $630m invested into London-based EdTech companies since 2014.
China dominates the top five ranking – with Beijing taking the top spot and Shanghai in third, while San Francisco and Bangalore come in second and fourth respectively.
Last year, London-based EdTech companies raised a total of $124m in VC investment, ahead of Paris with $92m and Berlin’s $67m. London’s edtech ecosystem is also the largest in Europe – estimated value of $3.4bn – compared to Paris ($1.9bn) and Berlin ($0.8bn).
|GLOBAL EDTECH UNICORNS|
|Company||Country||Cluster||Last Round Date||Last Round Type||Valuation|
|Yuanfudao||China||Tutoring||Dec-20||$300M Series G Top Up||$15.5B|
|ByJu’s||India||Tutoring||Nov-20||$200M PE Round||$12.0B|
|Zuoyebang||China||Tutoring||Dec-20||$1.6B Series E+||$10.0B|
|VIPKid||China||Language||Sep-19||$150M VC/PE Round||$4.5B|
|Udemy||USA||Online Post Secondary/Skills||Nov-20||$50M Series F||$3.3B|
|Coursera||USA||Online Post Secondary/Skills||Jul-20||$130M Series F||$2.5B|
|Duolingo||USA||Language||Nov-20||$35M Series H||$2.4B|
|Unacademy||India||Test Prep||Nov-20||$80M VC||$2.0B|
|Zhangmen||China||Tutoring||Oct-20||$400M Series E||$2.0B+|
|ApplyBoard||Canada||International Recruitment||Sep-20||$55M Series C||$1.4B|
|Course Hero||USA||Study Notes||Aug-20||$70M B+ Top Up||$1.1B|
|Quizlet||USA||Study Notes||May-20||$30M Series C||$1.0B|
|Guild Education||USA||Online Post Secondary/Employers||Nov-19||$157M Series D||$1.0B+|
|Knowbox||China||Tutoring||May-19||$150M Series D||$1.0B+|
|Udacity||USA||Online Post Secondary/Skills||Nov-20||$75M Debt Round||$1.1B|
|Huike||China||Online Post Secondary||May-18||$200M Series D||$1.0B|
|Age of Learning||USA||Online Curriculum||May-16||$150M Series A||$1.0B|
|HuJiang||China||Online Curriculum||Oct-15||$157M Series D||$1.0B|
NEEDS OF THE NORTH
An overwhelming 84% of job vacancies within EdTech are based in London – creating cause for concern whether the tools being infiltrated into the UK’s schooling system are geared up to understand the needs of inner-city schools and the ‘London bubble’ rather than the often neglected needs of the North – where educational attainment is more of an issue here for disadvantaged children.
For example; the ‘early years gap’ between children from poorer and wealthier homes is almost twice as large in the North as it is in London, in addition schools in the North receive significantly less money per pupil than those in London, and can struggle to attract and retain high-quality teachers and leaders.
Tom Chambers, Director of Technology & Growth at Robert Walters comments:
“As with the large majority of start-up tech sectors, a gulf exists between vacancies in London and regional tech hubs.
“The concentration of EdTechs in London highlights the need to gain exposure to the Venture Capital market and need for external funding, but also raises the important issue of increasing accessibility to funding providers for those firms that base their operations regionally.”
|% of job vacancies in EdTech companies|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||1.23%|
James Perry – Head of Technology (regions) at Robert Walters, comments:
“Covid-19 is already having a huge impact on vacancies advertised in the tech sector – with an increasing number of businesses offering remote, or location neutral vacancies – both for practicality during the pandemic, as well to provide a more attractive employment offer.
“Taking this approach will allow London-based EdTechs to tap into the nationwide talent pool – specifically targeting tech-rich talent pools in Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
“Coupled with this trend, we expect national infrastructure projects like HS2 to shift the start-up culture with more EdTechs emerging in, or relocating to, regional hubs (as we’ve seen with maturing FinTechs). Steps such as these will go some way to ensuring VC face-time can be accessed regardless of location.”
Click here to download a copy of EdTech: The Hyper-Accelerator.