Why the education sector must prioritise hiring tech professionals

Amanda Whicher, Director of Hays Marketing and Technology

The pandemic has changed education forever, with students being pulled from classrooms, learning from home becoming a necessity, and teaching staff having to quickly adapt to teaching online. Technology played a pivotal role, and its importance has not diminished as we’ve become accustomed to the flexibility of online study. Now, the education sector must continue to invest in the right tools, training, and staff, to stay on track in delivering a hybrid or remote learning environment that is both effective and up to date.

A hybrid education environment is the future

There are far-reaching benefits to be gained from having a hybrid education environment in place. It provides greater flexibility compared to traditional ways of teaching, it gives learners what they want and opens the door for all learners to participate equally, no matter their circumstances. It gives students more choice and it can work particularly well for:

  • People who may not be able to relocate for college or university
  • Students with learning disabilities
  • Students with other disabilities
  • Neurodiverse students
  • Students with children or dependents

The pandemic has taught the education sector that the increase of technology used in schools, colleges, and universities, allows them more flexibility to do more things, more quickly, delivering rapid value to their students.

Digital inclusivity

The education sector needs to make access to technology a strategic priority, recognising pupils’ at-home technology and broadband, which are resources that not all families can afford. Digital inclusivity has become a major consideration, addressed, in some cases, by tablets and laptops being sent to those families deemed most at-need to prevent children from falling behind.

So, this has added a whole new layer of responsibility for schools to ensure they are hiring the right IT professionals to enable all pupils to have access to technology at home.

An education system fit for the workplace of tomorrow

Education today has almost become a mini version of the workplace. Technology and practices from organisations have been adapted into hybrid and remote education with students learning technology at a faster rate than ever before.

The advantage of education now being commonly hybrid or remote means it’s mirroring a world that is more tech-enabled with more technology being used by students. Therefore, students are going to enter the workforce with increased digital agility and employability skills. This is also a reminder of how important it is to hire highly skilled IT professionals who can introduce the latest technology and tools, and also stay on top of tech advances to ensure students are getting the best experience.

Cyber security must remain a top priority

As educators and students embrace remote learning, the pressure on IT departments in schools, colleges and universities is surging. Staff members need individual laptops, installed with multiple programmes and, most importantly, encrypted for cyber security and data protection. Constantly reviewing your security measures and having the right training in place for staff to monitor new threats and understand advancements in tech is pivotal.

Russell Poole, Director of Information Systems and Support, at University of Westminster says, “Cyber security has been and remains a top priority as the digital campus of Westminster has become more dispersed. We have had to adapt our curriculum to ensure we could deliver modules and courses to a student population who may fluctuate between being on campus, being in student accommodation, or being at home in the UK and abroad. This brings the need for a different approach to IT security given that our user base is far more distributed than it has been previously.”

Putting a good HR strategy in place

As staffing and skillsets requirements have changed due to the increased level of technology now used in education, it’s imperative to have a good HR strategy in place to meet this demand. Finding and retaining the right staff can be optimised by training existing IT departments and conducting online interviews.

Russell says, “We’ve continued to expand our IT team during the pandemic and have recruited 18 new colleagues. We have also embarked on a significant colleague development programme to ensure that we reduce our single points of knowledge and train our existing teams in the new skills required as our operating model and the University’s requirements change.

“Pretty much all of our recruitment and onboarding has been done online. Although face-to-face interviews are valuable, we have managed to move quickly, attract different types of candidates and secure them faster than ever before,” he explains. The advantage of recruiting remotely – from initial application to final interview – is that it massively widens the talent pool, giving you better access to more tech professionals.

It seems that hybrid education environments are here to stay, even as we move out of this pandemic, so hiring tech professionals and constantly evaluating your HR strategy is going to remain a crucial job for the education sector to thrive.

If you have any questions or require support with hiring tech professionals for the education sector, please contact your local Hays consultant.

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