Vocational education's value in a world where workforce skills matter more than ever


The task of forecasting what skills are required in the future is a challenging task for education experts. As advancements in technology and automation take place across global industries, the demand for refined, up-to-date skills are as important as ever for today’s workers.  
According to Pearson commissioned research, there are seven megatrends that have been identified as the core variables that are set to fundamentally influence the future of employment, as well as the way we learn, teach, and apply knowledge by 2030. These megatrends are: 

  1. Technological change 
  2. Globalisation 
  3. Demographic change 
  4. Environmental sustainability 
  5. Urbanisation 
  6. Increasing inequality 
  7. Political uncertainty 

By unpacking the requisite knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that learners need in the new world of work, it reveals three key areas to understand deeply in order to increase one’s employability:  

  • The technical, hands-on skills that one undertakes to do their set of tasks (hard skills) 
  • The ability to make the best, most efficient use of technology and understanding how to analyse, contextualise and interpret data (digital skills) 
  • The skills that combine people skills, communication skills, and areas involving critical thinking and problem solving (soft skills) 

Learners who package together the aforementioned skill areas (hard, digital and soft skills) to build a well-rounded future skills repertoire – or otherwise referred to as workforce skills – set themselves up for success and increase their professional potential.  

Is the academic route the be-all and end-all further education option? 
Historically thought of as a fall-back course of action, vocational education is rising as a first, popular further education choice for today’s learners who either seek employment sooner or are taking an alternative route to university.  
Simon Young, Pearson Asia’s BTEC Portfolio Manager, says that there has been a general tendency to focus on traditional, academic pathways and study as being the only option for learners to get to university. But, as Simon notes, not all university graduates are ready for the new world of work