EdTech represents just 5% of UK's tech market, says new report

  • The UK government "was too slow to invest in technology for education prior to the pandemic", having a knock-on effect on children during lockdown, suggests a report by global recruitment firm, Robert Walters.

    The report highlights how technology has proven to be the biggest disruptor to the education sector in the UK, where around 11 million school-aged children have been asked to stay at home and undertake their education remotely throughout lockdowns.

    Slow investment by the government prior to the pandemic means that there are only 600 EdTech (education technology) companies in the UK – representing just 5% of the total technology market in the country, and 8% globally.

    Even though the UK is in the top five list for global edtech dominance, it pales in comparison to the USA where 43% of EdTechs are headquartered.

    Globally the EdTech market is valued at over $250bn, with the UK market taking a $3bn slice out of that. Growth of the UK market exploded by 72% - against a global backdrop of 18% growth.


    According to a Robert Walters poll of EdTech CEO’s and Founders, the biggest resistance of EdTech take-up in schools prior to the pandemic has been

    • cost of implementation (52%)
    • time required to train up teachers (47%)
    • preference of traditional educational methods (39%)
    • assumptions of new methods increasing workloads (33%)
    • fear of job replacement (21%).

    However, by the time the third lockdown came around compulsory tech parameters were set for teaching to be delivered remotely.

    RELATED: NI businesses called to help young people get digitally connected

    Schools have been expected to provide remote education that includes either recorded or live direct teaching for the minimum of:

    3 hours a day for Key Stage 1 (years 1 and 2 when pupils are aged between 5 and 7)
    4 hours a day for KS2 (years 3-6 when children are aged between 7 and 11)
    5 hours a day for KS3 and KS4 (secondary school up to age 16)

    David Roberts, CEO of global EdTech firm KidsLoop, comments: “The transition from offline to online has been a 20+ year organic behavioural change, and so it was only a matter of time before it took effect in one of the world’s oldest and most prominent industries – education.

    “In the UK, the biggest barrier to the uptake of EdTech to date has primarily been around the cost and 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.”


    To help aid remote schooling, the UK government pledged to deliver one million laptops to schools, colleges and further education providers.

    This was part of a £300m wider investment during the pandemic in access to remote education which includes identifying and helping those children without access to internet data.

    RELATED: Irish EdTech firm partners on free virtual learning platform

    Here in Northern Ireland, the Department of Education has to date procured over 25,000 digital devices for young people through its lending scheme. It is also providing free wifi for children lacking digital access, and funding for schools and colleges to set up a digital education platform.

    David Roberts adds: "Younger generations are increasingly becoming more accustomed to information being presented in a variety of ways & mediums – in particular digitally – and so the shift towards EdTech will only continue.

    "Children and young people are much more digitally literate these days and so are more comfortable with using tech in their day-to-day lives, so much so that for them learning from just books alone may almost seem archaic.

    “The drive for a more personalised and tailored experience has too pushed up the demand for EdTech.

    RELATED: NI edtech Learning Pool to grow US business over 50%

    "For so long education has been a very linear process – led by a standardised curriculum and taught in a universal manner. However outside of education a much bigger transition has been happening in the world – products which service our day-to-day lives; from shopping, meeting new people, and watching TV have become more personalised and choice-based.

    “Take Netflix, for example, who deliver just one service to a global customer base – streaming TV and film.

    "Through the power of data and algorithms, each Netflix account is tailored towards the user’s preferences and personal choice – making the service feel wholly unique and much more useful to them.

    "As the expectation for choice-based products and services only grows, so too will the demand for optimised and tailored EdTech solutions.”

    Click here to download a copy of EdTech: The Hyper-Accelerator.

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