By Alain Zaragoza
EdTech sector is by far one of the most growing sectors in the UK. If we consider that 97% of the young people aged 15-24 have basic digital skills in the UK and that Schools may invest 900 million pounds a year on this then there is a big opportunity for EdTech Social Enterprises (SEs) in Edinburgh to innovate and connect with the funding available. However, London-based EdTech SEs may represent a challenge or an opportunity for Edinburgh SEs, as they could also potentially become part of the route to build partnerships and learn with them.
According to the CBRE “Tech Cities” Report 2019, Edinburgh holds the third position among UK cities regarding the top 25 locations in the UK for Tech sector companies. In addition, according to the “Social Enterprise: Census 2015” 4% of the total 222 UK SEs work on the education, training and employment sector. As for the Social Enterprise of Scotland Directory there were 27 SEs categorized under “training & learning”, 11 as classes for different means, and 5 as “inclusive” and fostering equality and diversity.
The Equality Strategy 2017-2019 promotes an equal and diverse education strategy eliminating inequity. Most of the inclusive education SEs in Edinburgh work on training, empowerment, giving broader opportunities to people with other capacities and building awareness about local initiatives for the general public. Some SEs like Sikh Sanjog or Venture Mòr support vulnerable ethnically diverse women and young people, as well as safe places to for people to reflect on and explore their difficulties, respectively.
According to the UK government, some of the main challenges faced by the education sector in general include:
- reducing teacher workload
- increasing efficiency
- improving accessibility and inclusion
- supporting excellent teaching
- improving student outcomes
- EdTech sector industry barriers to start-up and grow.
Regarding the last challenge, the government recently elaborated a Strategy for Education providers and the technology industry that mainly focuses on supporting the SEs and promoting a better assessment through their project.
People in Edinburgh are facing different challenges that SEs are working on and among them, I found:
- The lack of professional abilities to have a better job or salary.
- The support needed to strengthen children performance at school.
- The gap of knowledge/experience of SEs entrepreneurs.
- The period poverty awareness and substantive support among girls and young women.
- The lack of awareness about social-driven initiatives in town.
In addition, several SEs are working on different envisioned solutions to some of the problems enlisted above. Several other SEs may point out evidences of stopping social campaigning online. Does that mean they ran out of funding? If so, how can different SEs key players could possibly help them?
In 2015 UK schools spent £900m on EdTech, exported 17.5bn a year and the estimation grows to reach £129bn in the global market by 2020. In 2017 EdTech SEs reached the same number of FinTech companies in the UK although London was the focus of most of the opportunities coming from institutional and venture capital money.
Therefore, while there is a group of SEs in Inclusive Education and the EdTech sector in Edinburgh it is important to understand what the challenges are for them and how can they get better support from all to continue their fantastic job beyond a short-term period that benefits all the community in a stronger way.