From our analysis of education in New Zealand and internationally, as well as from other sources including technological innovation, silicon valley ed-tech and other startups, we see the following as current trends impacting our work:
- Increased scrutiny around the economics of education: This applies both from the external position of funding agencies like the TEC who are moving to a zero-risk “investment” model of education as well as internally as providers continue to look at ways to do their work while slashing fixed costs. We’re addressing this by massively slashing our fixed costs this year. We expect government funding of education to continue to slow down. The next several years could see a massive reality check amongst education providers as fixed costs like rents continue to rise while funding slows or actually decreases.
- The hollowing out of middle management in education: Educational bureaucracies can no longer afford to pay for middle managers. Currently, providers still need tutors to deliver to students. However, management teams are becoming a luxury. We expect management responsibilities to devolve to a combination of technological solutions, increased tutor workload, and increased diversification of upper management responsibilities. In terms of our training, we can offer busy managers a professional development solution that helps increase tutor responsibility for delivering high quality outcomes.
- Technological solutions: The drive by TEC and NZQA to increase training providers’ efficiency and effectiveness externally combined with an internal drive by business owners to remain profitable will mean a shift to scalable technological solutions for education. In our field we’ve seen this trend in the massively scalable Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool which assessed over 100,000 learners. We are trying and capitalise on this trend by partnering with PathwaysAwarua.com to create a massively scalable and open version of our training programme.
- A move to online business models in education: Over the next ten years we are likely to see a transition to post-industrial education where delivery is dominated by online platforms. This will cause an unbundling of education where the information and training content in an education course can be separated out from other aspects such as personalised coaching (including face-to-face, blended, and online modes), assessment, and credentialing. This in turn will open up new online business models.
- Unemployment and underemployment: It’s possible that there is a tension between recognition of the value of increasing literacy and numeracy levels of at risk groups in the population versus the relatively minor impact of this investment in economic terms due to an increasingly restricted job market. Currently, there is a drive to upskill at risk groups including Maori, Pacifika, and Youth. However, if graduates of these programmes such as Youth Guarantee fail to find jobs over the next few years, funding could be pulled away from these kinds of foundation-focused programmes.
- A greater role for industry: As some educational pathways become more expensive and education shifts online, industry may take a greater interest in training solutions that can be customised to their needs for cheap or free. This is also in line with government directives for industry to take a greater role as outlined in the latest Tertiary Education Strategy.
- Import export education: With the development of massive online platforms for education delivery and assessment it makes sense for the different players to collaborate and export their education products. Likewise, it makes sense for countries and industries to look at what is available internationally rather than reinvent the wheel when it comes to nationally delivered training. This will lead to import education as well as the current trend around export education.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think?