Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics 2021

Which learning & skills topics appeared on the most covers of Informed Scotland over the past year? Here’s the ninth annual list.

=1. COVID-19 – impact, support & recovery (1 in 2020)

=1. Digital skills & inclusion (3)

=1. Skills shortages & gaps – upskilling, reskilling & recovery (=5)

=4. Developing & supporting the young workforce (4)

=4. School education reforms (NEW)

=6. Climate emergency/change education & skills (NEW)

=6. Cyber security skills & resilience (NEW)

=6. Online & remote learning (2)

Ten topics share 9th place, including a few regulars: ‘Widening & fair access’ (in every list since the first in 2013), ‘Apprenticeships’ (only missed one year) and ‘Futures: education policy & manifestos’ (fifth year running). The others are: ‘Artificial intelligence & learning’; ‘Careers & career services review’; ‘Innovation’; ‘National Qualifications’; ‘New courses’; ‘Review of tertiary education & research’; and ‘Tech sector’.

Three share the top spot. Unsurprisingly, ‘Covid-19’ is at the top for the second year running, albeit with a shift from ‘impact & response’ to ‘impact, support & recovery’. Indeed, five of the top eight topics are there mainly due to the pandemic – the first four listed plus ‘Online & remote learning’.

‘Digital skills’ remains the only topic to have been in the top three every year since 2013 and this is its fifth time at the top.

‘Skills shortages’ has made every annual list except one but this is the first time it’s made the top three. The combination of Covid-19, Brexit, digitalisation/the fourth industrial revolution and the transition to a green economy have created a perfect storm for employers and the jobs market. As skills shortages & gaps continue to grow, expect upskilling & reskilling (and ‘new skilling’) to become even greater priorities in 2022.

Three topics made the list for the first time and all are likely to be back in 2022: ‘School education reforms’ made many news headlines in 2021. ‘Climate emergency/change education & skills’ was a predictable addition with COP26 in Glasgow. And after hovering outside the list for a few years, ‘Cyber security skills’ finally made it, with major developments including a new cyber resilience strategy for Scotland and a new UK Cyber Security Council.

Finally, demonstrating the broad range of learning & skills issues covered, among the topics that appeared on a cover for the first time ever were ‘Space strategy’, LGBT inclusive education’ and ‘Hybrid learning, teaching, working & leadership’.  

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