The call for more efficiency in education is great. Understandably and rightly so, because the shortage of teachers is forcing measures to be taken. But no matter how important, in the end working and learning with pleasure are much more powerful tools against teacher turnover and for stimulating new recruits. Digitalization can be used in many areas and with great success. From reducing absenteeism through data analysis to HR optimisation through People Analytics. Think also of reducing work pressure by using new technologies, such as blockchain for diploma validation. But the higher goal must always be that those in front of the board and sitting in the benches feel heard and helped. We help identify the challenges and work to develop the solutions that lead to greater learning — and better futures.
In addition to the shortage of teachers and the pressure of work, you as a school administrator naturally have more urgent files to deal with. The energy transition also affects the (not always up-to-date) real estate of educational institutions. Internationalisation is topical, due to initiatives abroad and foreign teachers and pupils here. And the level of knowledge of the participation council, digital integrity and privacy also play a role in many organisations. These are all subjects on which PwC can provide you with very concrete and effective support. Whether it's as your institutional accountant, tax consultant, lawyer or adviser, we're happy to help solve the issues that are important to you.
In theory, the possibilities of digitalisation are endless. Classes and lecture halls could be shut down. But many skills can only be developed in the social context of the classroom and campus, such as collaboration, communication and conflict resolution. Moreover, in the future we expect a shift from an emphasis on cognitive competences to a greater appreciation of qualities such as curiosity, empathy, adaptability and emotional flexibility. These are pre-eminently skills that require intensive interaction with others. In the classroom and on campus.
It should be noted that digitalisation in education should not be confused with the digitalisation agenda of the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The Minister wants to improve the digital knowledge and skills of pupils and teachers, which will of course also help to relieve some of the workload.
Pupils sent home, teacher strikes, schools eagerly looking for staff and teachers who are going under due pressure. We all read about it and see the creative solutions that are being sought. But are we doing the right thing?
The availability and quality of education are at risk. This is crazy and alarming. It's strange because, for example, research shows that younger women in particular would like to work more than the hours they are offered. Alarming, knowing that the ability to learn is vital in today's society.
Society and the labour market are changing rapidly due to technological and demographic changes. Digitalisation and smart automation are changing our work environment at a pace never seen before. Flexibility to remain attractive as working (and not (yet) working) people is key in a competitive service economy like ours. This requires continuous development.
Well-thought-out and structural solutions for education are therefore not more desirable than necessary to maintain a competitive workforce and to be able to continue to compete as an economy on the global market. Harsh measures to ensure sufficient growth and retention of good, motivated teachers who provide good quality education for everyone is a matter of urgency.
Educational institutions use buildings for teaching and research, ranging from a single educational building to complete campuses at multiple locations. In addition to legislation and regulations regarding the desired quality of buildings, the necessary capacity for the educational and research vision and the impact of the buildings on student satisfaction, the energy transition also plays an important role in decisions regarding educational housing. What is the policy, mission or strategy of the educational institution in the field of sustainability and how does current and future housing fit in with this?
When it comes to maintenance, renovation or new construction of educational and research buildings, the question arises as to how to deal with heat transition as part of the energy transition? Gas-less construction as the norm sounds nice, but can it also be financed? And how, for example, can future savings on energy costs be used to create extra budgetary room now to make the necessary investments? Of course, it is important to incorporate the possibilities that exist in terms of subsidies and tax incentives in the business case.
Moreover, the energy transition invites new ways of cooperation and financing. For example, joint projects involving the surrounding neighbourhood or neighbouring businesses. Residual heat from one business process is (re)used in another or the roofs are given a new function as a power plant for the entire area. The energy user is not only a customer, but is also often involved as a client. For example, by participating in their own energy cooperatives or, in the case of 'Energy Service Companies' (ESCo's), as a sharing in the profits made by saving energy.
Based on our mission, we would like to use our experience and expertise to bring parties together, provide clarity about financial and fiscal (im)possibilities and thus help educational institutions achieve the energy transition goals.
Lifelong learning and development
Digitalisation and automation are fundamentally changing the way we work. This will have a far-reaching effect on the tasks we perform and the skills we need to do so. Lifelong learning and development is therefore becoming increasingly relevant. Although the Netherlands scores relatively well in the field of lifelong learning compared to most other European countries, we still do not use all the money that is available for this.
The majority of those in employment follow formal education or business training in order to perform better in their current job; only a limited proportion of those in education or training do so with a view to their future job or range of tasks. We need to move from occasional to continuous learning. This includes on-the-job training, feedback and internal and external digital learning environments. Recognition of acquired competences and diplomas for online training are important incentives for lifelong learning. The education sector can play an important role in this.
Almost half of Dutch CEOs say they have problems attracting technical talent. Still, we don't make the best use of our technical talent. Only a small part of our female technical talent follows a technical study and starts working in the technical sector. This is a missed opportunity both for the female talent and for our society. We also need women's perspectives, innovations and solutions.
The pipeline from secondary education to technical studies and ultimately a career in beta technology is leaking in many places. With relatively small and inexpensive measures, we can change views on beta technology, increase the self-confidence of girls and women in technical subjects, and create an environment so that they feel at home in the technical sector. We believe that the imbalance between men and women in STEM can only be remedied if schools, universities and companies work together.
Our international network is there to help educational institutions
All internationally operating educational institutions want to have the certainty that they are also fiscally compliant outside the Netherlands. We can offer this certainty to educational institutions through our worldwide educational network. In virtually every country where an institution is or would like to be active, our advisors work with in-depth knowledge of local laws and regulations and excellent relationships with relevant authorities. We can call on them at any time for international issues. Moreover, the frequent exchange of knowledge within our international network enables us to provide institutions with timely information on relevant developments in the various countries within and outside the EU. Together with our foreign advisors, we also organise regular meetings in the Netherlands to familiarise your institution with the laws and regulations of specific countries and to share practical tips. For example, we have organised an interactive session with our Indian colleagues.
Experience with education abroad
With knowledge, tips and establishing contacts with tax authorities, we can also support educational institutions when they carry out activities in another country. For example, we have been training tax authorities for several years in countries such as Russia, Suriname and Turkey. Our accredited training institute, PwC Academy, offers education and training on tax issues in an increasing number of countries. We have also helped set up various educational institutions in the Middle East. Finally, we also maintain close ties with institutions in all the countries in our network and with international policymakers such as the European Commission, thus contributing to the formulation of relevant policies. One example is the report we wrote for the European Commission on the VAT position of public organisations in the EU.
Contributions from individuals and companies are an increasingly important source of funding for educational institutions. In Anglo-Saxon countries, educational institutions have achieved great successes with private fundraising. See, for example, the record donation of $1.8 billion that Bloomberg pledged at the end of 2018 to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. Dutch educational institutions also achieved their first successes in this area.
In order to boost the income from the fourth flow of funds, a fundraising strategy is needed that is in line with the strategy of the educational institution. Educational institutions need to engage more with stakeholders about their successes and challenges. Building a sustainable relationship with (former) students deserves special attention.
The support fund or the department responsible for fundraising must have the necessary tools at its disposal to bind individuals and companies to the educational institution for a long period of time. Extensive knowledge of different legal and fiscal giving methods can make all the difference.
Automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence are changing the way we work and the tasks we perform. Every profession contains tasks that can be automated. As a result, certain skills, such as social skills, creativity and learning ability, are becoming increasingly important.
In addition, it is important for all workers to know how to use new technologies. They must be able to properly monitor and interpret what the data means. For the majority of Dutch people, this is more important than learning technical or IT skills.
Employees in the Netherlands need to improve these skills if they want to do their job properly in fifteen years' time. The education sector can play a major role in this by helping to develop these skills throughout the educational career - and beyond.
Industry Leader Publieke Sector PwC Europe en Nederland, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 50 48
Senior Director, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 15 13
Partner, Assurance Amsterdam, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 58 93