Technical Skills Crucial for Future-Proofing Higher Education: Advance HE Report

The latest report from Advance HE underscores the essentiality of technical skills in the professional development of higher education. This emphasis is attributed to the transformative power of technology. The justification for this is unequivocal: integrating technological proficiency into individual and institutional development will enable universities to keep pace with our ever-evolving technological environment, cultivate well-rounded professionals and researchers, and enhance the learning experience for students.

The need for this integration is more pressing than ever, as evidenced by the recent advancements in generative AI. The pace of technological progress shows no signs of slowing down, reinforcing the urgency to foster technical skills.

While specialists in specific technologies will always be crucial, it is not realistic or efficient to expect every individual within an organization to have an extensive understanding of the vast and diverse field of technology. Not everyone needs to be proficient in Python scripting or have an in-depth understanding of cybersecurity beyond the basic best practices.

However, it is a feasible goal, even within a large university setting, to develop a basic technical skill set among students and staff through training initiatives and organizational incentives. The specifics of this skill set and how it is developed and incentivized will vary from institution to institution. Therefore, it falls on universities to establish technical competency frameworks and training provisions, possibly with the help of external partners. A diverse array of approaches will enable universities to develop skills that are relevant to their specific context and needs.

The aim to foster a familiarity with technology across a workforce or student body is not new, and the potential benefits are well-known. However, if universities truly want to nurture technical competence across their communities, they must strive to instill a broader, more critical understanding of technology. This understanding should go beyond specific programming languages or software packages and extend to what is currently achievable with technology and what may be possible in the future.

Students and staff should also be encouraged to engage in critical discussions provoked by technology, such as debates surrounding the measurement of engagement with learning through technology and the role of technology as a tool rather than a solution. While a short course in a coding language may be beneficial for some, a system that promotes fluency in the language of coding will have a far-reaching impact on the university as a whole.

Beyond just developing technical skills, universities also have the responsibility to create individuals who are capable of participating in discussions about technology, making informed decisions about its implementation, and looking forward to the future while being aware of the present limitations of technology. This will ensure that when the next technological revolution sweeps across the higher education landscape, we will be ready to leverage it to its full potential.

Universities aiming to get CPD accredited should consider incorporating technical skills development into their programs. The cost of accreditation can be offset by the benefits of producing graduates who are not only technically proficient but also have a deep understanding of the broader implications of technology. Digital CPD certificates can serve as proof of this proficiency and understanding.

In conclusion, self-accreditation education providers should take note of the emphasis on technical skills in higher education development. By integrating technical skills training into their programs, they can prepare their students for a future where technology plays an increasingly significant role.

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