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Views & Opinion Debbie Forster Elizabeth Kanter

Investing in the Future of the Digital Economy

Comment by Debbie Forster, Co-CEO of CDI Apps for Good and Elizabeth Kanter, Director Government Relations and Public Policy, SAP

Technology and the duty of care

Comment by Tim Devine, Managing Director of Arthur J. Gallagher’s Education Practice

Every year thousands of overseas trips are undertaken by students and staff from Higher Education institutions in the UK. Employers or sponsoring organisations have a duty of care, as well as a legal requirement, to ensure the safety and well-being of those they are responsible for. This includes making certain that staff are adequately insured, check in on a regular basis and have the required vaccinations. Certain universities and other further education establishments will regularly undertake high-risk work in locations across the globe. From providing healthcare to Ebola victims, to studying elections in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan, conducting oil research in terrorism-prone areas of the Middle East and botanical studies in crime-ridden parts of Africa and Latin America, the list is long and varied.

Corporate duty of care extends across all of these activities. In 2008, when terrorists raided Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, was it possible for educational establishments to know if they had students or staff in the area? Similarly, when Hurricane Patricia struck the west coast of Mexico last week, were universities able to know the location of their people on placements in the country? The most likely answer is no. Until recently it has not been possible to monitor in real time where overseas staff and students are located. Many institutions still rely on outdated paper-based systems to file their travel insurance policies and emergency procedures. However, for today’s students raised in the technological age, storing your travel policy on your smartphone is far more efficient than digging out a scrap of paper with an emergency number written on it.

As with all sectors of society, technology is being rapidly developed through Android and IOS mobile apps to assist higher education institutions manage their responsibilities. A robust travel insurance policy will always be critical in ensuring compliance with your duty of care but utilising technology to best effect to ensure that the policy’s underlying features and benefits are quickly and easily accessible to a new generation of travellers should be prioritised too. Many education administrators are now using technology to effectively monitor travelling groups, receiving live data on the numbers of travellers as well as their exact location at any given time. Apps such as TravelCert developed by Arthur J. Gallagher, link this information with the traveller’s travel insurance and emergency procedure documents. Having this at a user’s fingertips provides a technological revolution for those travelling abroad and for the administrators monitoring them.

This new technology is equipping higher education institutions with the ability to manage their duty of care to staff and students more effectively and counter the difficulties faced in securing accurate real-time data.

November 2015

The UK’s technology sector is a vibrant success story. It is also a vital catalyst for innovation across the UK in other sectors and crucial to our future as a thriving digital economy. If it is to maintain this position of strength, it is imperative that the UK sustains momentum in this space – and this starts with delivering appropriate education to school children to ensure that future need for digital skills is met.

Historically, ICT training at school has focused too much on computer literacy – teaching pupils how to word-process, build a spreadsheet and use programs which are already creaking towards obsolescence. In order to seize the opportunities of the digital age, there needs to be a transformation in the way technology is taught in schools, to empower students from all backgrounds to turn bright ideas into market leading innovations. While the term “digital native” has been around for more than a decade, it’s never been more applicable than it is to today’s primary school students, some of whom are entering school feeling more comfortable with the digital world than their teachers. This poses a challenge to both students, who may not feel sufficiently challenged, and teachers, who may be unable to make the most of digital resources in the classroom to encourage the development of other core skills, including communication, problem solving, creativity nd teamwork.

The efforts made to teach school children how to code is an excellent case in point. In 2014, the government recognised coding as a key skill for the digital age by adding it to the National Curriculum for children between the ages of five and 16. Yet, although the move has been broadly welcomed by the technology industry, parents and education professionals, challenges remain in equipping teachers with the knowledge to teach code effectively. Indeed, while teachers remain the experts on education, their confidence and proficiency with regards to these new skills varies. What is needed is an initiative which aims to furnish teachers with the knowledge that will enable them to both do what they do best and support young people in exploring the opportunities the digital economy has to offer. For this reason, SAP is supporting Apps for Good with its programme to bring training to primary school teachers to help them deliver fun and challenging ICT lessons to their enthusiastic and digitally native students. The programme will be rolled out to primary schools in 2016 with mentors from Apps for Good working with primary school teachers to deliver the training. Apps for Good is uniquely positioned with the skills and technical know- how to help develop the next generation of digital leaders from a young age. And as these future leaders of the digital economy enter higher education, programmes like SAP University Alliances, which provides technology and training to help engage and teach university students, will pick up the charge - to ensure that young people enter the workforce with the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly connected, technologically-enabled world. Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is to transform the way technology is taught in schools and sustain the momentum that will see the UK technology sector continue to flourish. By focusing on solving real issues that matter to young people, students learn the full software product development process in a hands-on fashion. This investment will ultimately enable UK students to create solutions to the problems they care about, using technology, and continue to make a significant positive impact on the future. 19

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