Lockdown measures and mandatory school closures contributed to an EdTech industry boom during 2020, according to a new study.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the sector grew by a staggering 71.5%, with growth surpassing the global average by nearly four times.
The rapid growth puts the value of Britain’s EdTech market at nearly £3.5bn. Pre-pandemic, EdTech exports brought in around £170 million to the economy. However, this is now expected to have topped £292m.
Findings come from the EdTech: The Hyper-Accelerator report, published by global recruiter Robert Walters alongside data provider Vacancysoft.
Commenting on the findings, Robert Walters’ Senior Manager for Technology, Tom Chambers, said that while growth surpassed expectations, the sector could expand further over the next 12-months.
“In the UK, the EdTech market is still very much in its infancy – whilst a surge in demand was forecast for 2020, the reality exceeded all expectations due to the impact of Covid-19 and the need to continue education remotely, whilst simultaneously breaking down the barriers that prevent marginalised groups from accessing it,” he said.
“The requirement for both online courses and virtual classes as permanent academic fixtures will dramatically increase the scale of the sector over the next 12 months,” Chambers added.
Currently, there are 600 EdTech firms based in the UK, representing just 5% of all tech companies in the country. However, the report shows that overall vacancies in the sector grew by 56% in 2020 compared to a 40% increase in vacancies across all other tech sectors.
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In terms of investment, the sector is also gradually gaining ground on international competitors. Although there are not yet any EdTech unicorns in the UK (or Europe), the report suggests that investment trends could make this a reality sooner rather than later.
The UK attracts almost half (41%) of all EdTech investment coming into Europe. EdTech investment in the UK has grown by +91%, compared to Europe where investment has increased by just +8%, and in the USA there has been a -12% decrease in investment in recent years.
“The social impact, youth of the companies and general attractiveness of the industry all play a part in helping EdTech to become one of the fastest-growing sectors in Europe,” Chambers said.
Key Growth Areas
According to the report, augmented reality (AR) is one of the key driving forces of the UK EdTech market – growing by +119% in the past year alone.
Augmented reality enhances the real-world environment with text, sound effects, graphics, and multimedia, with the value of global EdTech AR predicted to surpass $5.3bn by 2023.
Digital Classrooms also grew by +65% last year.
David Roberts, CEO of EdTech, KidsLoop commented: “Unlike many other sectors, the pandemic acted as a ‘hyper accelerator’ for the edtech market. Overnight educational institutions were expected to take their classroom delivery entirely remote, with technology being the only enabler of this.
“In the UK, the biggest barrier to the uptake of edtech to date has primarily been around the cost & time associated with teacher retraining. However, during lockdown teachers had no choice but to become accustomed to edtech tools and by and large learnt on-the-job.
“On the whole, the UK is early on in its journey of embedding technology into its education system – but now that the doors have been opened, we move increasingly closer to hybrid classrooms with the help of optimised learning platforms.”