Schools not preparing children for modern collaborative working

UC EXPO study finds 55 per cent of Brits see education system as one of the major blockades in enabling collaboration in the workplace.

New research from UC EXPO, Europe’s largest unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) event, has found that 56 per cent of working Brits don’t think the current school curriculum does enough to provide students with the collaborative skills they need for modern working.

The results come at a time when collaboration is regularly noted as a vital aspect of work and organisations are doubling down on how to enable smarter collaboration amongst the workforce. Indeed 70 per cent of the UK workforce believe that collaboration is very important in the work environment.

But more than half (51 per cent) either never collaborated or collaborated infrequently in school, and 37 per cent stated that collaboration wasn’t an important focus of their education.

In fact 55 per cent of people working in education also believe that not enough is done to provide students with collaboration skills, with one teacher noting, ‘The emphasis is on learning facts and passing exams rather than allowing for development of skills such as group work or team work which help with other skills. The last National Curriculum was purely skills based and went too far, this is the other extreme. I do try to include more group and team work as it makes a more resilient and independent worker, but the kids prefer to be told.’

It’s somewhat unsurprising, given the lack of collaboration emphasis in school, that 10 per cent of Brits admit that they never collaborate in their work and that 5 per cent will actively try to avoid collaborating. Fifteen per cent state that one of the reasons they don’t like to collaborate is because they believe it’s a waste of time.

But, as individuals rise through the ranks collaboration becomes a more frequent and important aspect of their role. Eighty-three per cent of C-level executives who responded to the study stated that they collaborate very frequently in their role, compared with only 47 per cent of entry level staff.

However, tides could be starting to turn as younger generations in the workplace are more likely to have had a collaborative education than older generations, with 71 per cent of 18-24 year olds collaborating often in school, compared with just 24 per cent of 55-64 year olds.

‘Collaboration skills are regularly noted as vital on job adverts, and as a key contributor to an organisation’s productivity and creativity. Without collaboration some of the most innovative technology of our time simply wouldn’t exist and society wouldn’t be driving forwards in the way it is,’ comments Bradley Maule-ffinch, EMEA portfolio director for UC EXPO.

Maule-ffinch continues, ‘For a long time technology was noted, perhaps misguidedly, as an inhibitor to collaboration. But given the huge range of products now available to support and enable collaboration, only 7 per cent of working Brits believe that’s still the case. This points to a far deeper collaboration issue within workplaces. If organisations can work together with those in education to emphasise the collaboration skills individuals need when they enter the workplace then future workforces are going to be able to thrive.’

Further reading on collaborative working

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Freddie Halvorson

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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