10 Trends & Predictions for Technical Education in 2023
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There’s a lot of talk about what the world will look like over the next 12 months, and education is no exception. Four years of disruption, uncertainty and a roller coaster of economic and social change has many wondering what 2023 has in store. We believe 2023 will be an exciting year for technical education, especially for those who take advantage of the opportunities we won’t see for decades to come.

What trends will impact education in 2023? Look out for funding to be good, a focus on new tech like EV and hybrid vehicles, HVAC, and renewable energy, and more!

We’re sharing our top 10 predictions for technical education in 2023, as shared by Matt Kirchner in an episode of The TechEd Podcast, which you can listen to below.

Let us know what you think of our predictions, and here’s to an excellent 2023!

Prediction #1: It will be a good year of funding for technical education

Last year, we predicted that 2022 would be a great year for funding. We’re here to tell you that 2023 will be no different. But spend it wisely, as we may not see this kind of funding in technical education for another generation.

We’ve seen this influx of funding go to incredible uses – repairing and updating building systems, adding technology to teach remotely, and increasing teacher salaries. But as this funding won’t last forever, schools should consider how to spend money in ways that can pay the district (and students) back for years to come. As important as instructor and staff salaries are, we also need to invest in the future of our programs, technology and lab spaces.

These larger equipment expenditures are an investment that will last for years to come. 2023 is the right time to make the purchase while funds are readily available.

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Prediction #2: We’ll see a pause in innovation of technology in education & across the entire economy

This one has already been in the works since late 2022, and supply chain issues are to blame. Manufacturers and industrial companies have put a pause on their new product R&D because they’re having to reallocate their R&D engineers to solving constraints caused by supply chain issues.

These companies are struggling to get orders out the door because they’re missing critical components. While re-sourcing parts has helped solve some of these issues, other times companies are forced to redesign current products to fit the components they’re able to readily source. So while all these engineers are working on solving their supply chain issues, an unintended consequence is that they’re slowing down innovation for new products.

Expect to see a dip in innovation in 2023 followed by an increase as supply chain issues are solved and engineering talent goes back to the work of research and development.

Prediction #3: Excess inventory will bring lead times down for your technical education equipment

Another effect of supply chain constraints – excess inventory. In 2022, manufacturers weren’t able to get their hands on critical components required to complete and ship product orders – this impacted the world of technical education equipment as much as any other. As a result, lead times stretched and customers have had to wait longer than ever to receive products.

Without a clear end in sight for supply chain issues, manufacturers began putting in as many orders for hard-to-find components as possible to try to alleviate that constraint. Now, these companies are sitting on excess inventory. This can be a huge problem for certain markets, especially seasonal ones (think winter coats arriving in spring, last season’s footwear sitting on shelves and excess lawn fertilizer companies can’t sell before winter). Couple that with consumers spending less, and we’re going to see excess inventory issues become a regular headline in 2023.

The good news for technical education is that lead times for lab equipment will come down in 2023, especially in the second half of the year.

Prediction #4: Inflation will ease

While this is a macroeconomic prediction, it will have an impact on technical education as well. Inflation hit a maximum of 9.1% in 2022 – the highest rate the United States has seen in over 40 years. Price increases affected Americans in every aspect of their lives, and the cost of educational equipment, curriculum and resources was no exception.

Since then, the inflation numbers have started to come down. While still high by historical standards, we’re moving in the right direction.

We predict a continual decrease of inflation over the course of 2023, making budgeting  and planning just a little bit easier for educators in the coming year.

Prediction #5: Esports will see rapid growth in technical education

The global sports market is already growing at a substantial rate. The $1.2 billion market of 2021 is predicted to reach $5.7 billion by 2030 – a compound annual growth rate of 21.9%. Global esports viewership rivals traditional sporting events, like the Superbowl or the World Cup.

What does this mean for education? In the coming years, every school will have their own esports team, just like they have a football and baseball team. Many schools already do, with students earning scholarships to play for collegiate teams and even going pro. Regional, state and national leagues are popping up across the country and around the globe, with schools and community leagues competing in-person at huge stadiums and arenas.

Educators have an enormous opportunity to harness the esports wave and turn those gamers into makers. All the interest in esports can be channeled back to STEM courses, like computer science, coding and programming, game and app development, graphic and 3D design, writing, editing, marketing, business and event management, and so much more.

More on this topic:

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Prediction #6: Industrial training & employee reskilling will grow in 2023

Educators have done an incredible job over the last few years of getting students excited about careers in STEM and the skilled workforce and building a pipeline of talent that our workforce desperately needs. Now, expect to see demand for incumbent employee training grow in 2023.

There are thousands of people currently working in sectors like manufacturing who will likely stay in the field for decades to come. At the same time, their employers are investing in more automation and robotics, adding smart sensors and smart devices to their equipment, and adding software on the device, edge and cloud level to perform more data analysis as we transition our workforce toward Industry 4.0. Those thousands of incumbent workers will need training and reskilling to work in this new era of industry.

As a result, employers will look to their technical and community colleges for industrial training, but they’ll need a more flexible model than ever before. Gone are the days when an employer can spare a team to sit in a conference room for a day to get training from the college instructor. Colleges need to find innovative ways to deliver flexible learning through things like eLearning and portable training that can go in and out of the manufacturer’s facility and be available when it’s needed, as opposed to when an instructor is available.

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Prediction #7: HVAC programs will be on the rise

Expect to see the rise of heating, ventilation and air conditioning programs. It’s one of the sectors with the largest demand for a skilled workforce, with an anticipated shortage of 225,000 HVAC technicians in the next 5 years. There will be massive amounts of pressure from the workforce to increase enrollment, capacity and graduation of students going through HVAC technician programs and apprenticeships.

At the same time, technical education must consider updating their HVAC technology – something many haven’t done in years. Smart home technology is a fast-growing market, and our building controls are a pivotal part of that innovation. HVAC programs should ensure their curriculum includes smart home technology, including embedded smart sensors, WiFi-enabled hardware, and data analytics software for temperature and energy control.

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Prediction #8: Technical education will add more 5-axis machining capabilities

What is 5-axis machining? A typical machine tool (a lathe, mill, etc.) moves using the Cartesian coordinate system – yes, the same one you learned about in math class, applied in real life. A 3-axis machine tool moves using the three linear coordinates (X, Y and Z) to dictate its points and motion. A 5-axis machine also includes an A and B axis for rotary and tilt capabilities. With these two additional axes, we can approach a workpiece from any direction, eliminate the need to reposition the workpiece, and machine highly complex parts.

5-axis machines have been around a long time but are growing in popularity in the workforce. Companies need machinists who have experience on both 3- and 5-axis machines. Many technical and community colleges are already teaching on these machine tools, but expect to see more added in 2023.

Additionally, the technology is becoming more accessible and affordable, so we predict innovations like tabletop 5-axis machines coming out in the near future. So high schools, be ready to take advantage of these innovations and implement advanced machining capabilities in your technical education programs in 2023.

More on this topic:

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Prediction #9: We will see renewed focus put on renewable energy education

Renewable energy seems to be a topic that goes in an out of popularity, but prepare to see a massive push toward new and alternative energy in 2023. This is due in part to national legislation incentivizing renewable energy, including the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Biden in August 2022 and loaded with clean energy incentives and tax credits for everything from energy storage to renewable energy sources. Deloitte’s 2023 renewable energy industry outlook predicts continued acceleration in the market driven in part by a record-breaking influx of clean energy incentives.

An increase in renewable energy will require a whole new set of workers: engineers who design solar, PV, wind, hydrogen (etc.) energy systems, manufacturing workers to build them, installers to put them to work, maintenance technicians to keep them running, data analysts to monitor and improve them, and all the leadership and support staff it takes to make the industry run on the business side.

This creates opportunity for technical education to embrace renewable energy – to teach it in science and STEM programs, in career and technical education courses, in two-year technical programs, in apprenticeships, and in four-year universities.

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Prediction #10: The growth of the hybrid and electric vehicle market will impact technical education

Hybrid and electric vehicles are growing in popularity, due in part by factors like clean energy emphasis, the affordability of these vehicles – thanks to more automakers entering the EV market, and the wider availability of charging stations. To put things into perspective, electric vehicle sales accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market in Q2 of 2022, up from 2.7% during the same time frame in 2021. Echoing our predictions around renewable energy, government incentives are going to support all things electric.

We certainly have a long way to go for our national infrastructure to support widespread adoption of electric vehicles, but education would be wise to start implementing hybrid and EV coursework into their automotive programs. And that’s exactly what we predict we’ll see in technical education in 2023.

How does this impact education? For starters, our automotive programs will make major adjustments: automotive technicians will need additional training around hybrid and electric engines and drive systems that differ from traditional combustion engines. But there’s a plethora of other careers and fields of study impacted by the growth of EV. These include things like chemical engineers who design and improve EV battery systems, electronics and electrical technicians and engineers who might apply their knowledge to the automotive market, software engineers who are part of making our vehicles smart, and electricians who can install and maintain charging stations in homes and on the road.

More on this topic: Hybrid & EV Technology & Repair Training Systems & Curriculum

Here’s to an excellent year of technical education in 2023!

We’re thrilled about the opportunities that lie ahead, and we look forward to seeing where technical education grows in 2023. If you want to stay up to date on the world of technical education, technology, and workforce development, then subscribe to The TechEd Podcast!

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