The rapid response of local authorities, schools and central government during COVID-19 school closures has made the country by far the leading shipper of mobile PCs to schools in Europe, according to CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.
CONTEXT’s weekly data monitors the IT channel, in particular sales from distributors of technology hardware and software to resellers and retailers.
While the UK led the way in 2019, accounting for 26% of all European laptops shipped to the education sector through distribution, their performance saw a huge leap in March 2020. In this month the figure leapt to 51% of all notebook, tablet and PC shipments as local education authorities and schools bought PCs in bulk through corporate channels to distribute to young people studying at home.
After figures dipped in the intervening months, volumes again hit half of all those shipped in Europe by June 2020 thanks to the Government’s Get Help with Technology Programme.
“The UK Government and Local Education Authorities have been the fastest to respond to the crisis for young people, and have been helped in this by the support of the incredible logistic capabilities of UK IT Distributors and Resellers, a real national success story in the midst of the Covid crisis”, said Adam Simon, Global Managing Director of CONTEXT.
"This pandemic has proved that every child needs their own connected device to learn effectively, and that technology is critical to keeping education going”, said Alex Tatham, Managing Director at Westcoast. “With over a million devices delivered and more to come, the DFE have managed to procure products in a time of unprecedented demand and shortage of supply and have delivered to every promise made. They could not have done so without the heroes in Westcoast's warehouses and configuration centres.”
In total, the UK accounted for nearly two-fifths (36%) of all laptops shipped to schools last year in Europe, way higher than second-placed Italy (17%).
The momentum is continuing in 2021, with UK distributors so far accounting for just over 45% of laptops shipped to support remote working students, almost double the tally for Italy in second (25%).
“We are very proud to have played a part in helping the Department for Education get so many laptops to children and young people across England”, said Kevin James, Group Chief Commercial Officer at Computacenter. “By leveraging our established logistics and configuration capabilities we were able to help execute this programme at unparalleled scale and pace, but it wouldn’t have been possible without our incredible people and our trusted partners, too.”