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Technology-led training will boost UK economy, claims Vince Cable

30 Jan 2013
Business secretary Vince Cable

Business secretary Vince Cable has said technology-led training is likely to be one of the biggest industries for the UK in the coming years.

The comments come as a V3 uncovers worrying new evidence of a huge decline in computer science training courses on offer.

However, Cable said at BETT that training people via technology, whether in schools, universities and businesses, is one of the country's biggest strengths.

"Me and my colleagues launched the industrial strategy where we try to work in partnership with businesses and think long term about particular industries that will bring national growth, like the aerospace industry," said Cable, at the event attended by V3.

"But probably the biggest industry will be that of training technology. Some of the biggest emerging technology in the UK is from this area."

BETT is an annual national event in the UK focussed on training technology, which this year had 45,000 people register for attendance, an increase of more than 10,000 on last year's numbers.

Cable pointed to the success of particular UK start-ups like Little Bridge, which offers English lessons for children through online gaming. He also pointed to haptic technology, which is emerging technology used to train dentists in a virtual environment.

Cable championed the use of online learning courses as a key solution to both encouraging more students to undertake higher education qualification, as well as a means to achieving further growth in the teacher training IT industry.

However, there remain e-learning challenges that need to be solved before education institutions adopt such courses as their standard means of teaching, he added.

"Education is now a massive industry and is expanding rapidly, it's probably now second to the health sector, worth four and a half trillion dollars. But how do we meet the sheer volume of people wanting to learn, both physically and financially?" said Cable.

"At the heart is technology. E-learning is now increasing by 25 percent. Also MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] are increasing in popularity. It's easy to teach and learn through Moocs but there is technically the problem of accreditation. How do you validate students honestly?"

Last year at BETT, education secretary Michael Gove announced that the ICT curriculum in schools would be revised.

The government has yet to launch a national consultation on the new ICT curriculum, which is the focus of the V3 Make IT Better campaign.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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