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Posted David Brown, Executive Vice President, Veredus | Hays on Thursday, Aug 20, 2015
The IT skills gap is continuing to widen and employers are citing a lack of new talent entering the industry as a key reason. In response, there is a new wave of training initiatives that are literally going back to the classroom to inspire the next generation of tech workers.
A recent article, Steve Weston, Chief Information Officer at Hays, describes one of the biggest concerns in technology is the lack of action towards closing the gap. Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “Growth and jobs in the future will depend on having a workforce that can exploit new technologies and discoveries. The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand from firms is outstripping supply.”
Tech professionals are not being trained to the standard needed. To tackle this lack of training and generate more interest in tech-based subjects, training projects like CoderDojo, Code Jam and Code Academy are going directly into schools to address the shortage at the source.
Kids can code
Globally, the pace of development in technology is outstripping the pace of education, which is a real concern to any business with even a small reliance on keeping their IT skills up to date. Bill Liao is the founder of CoderDojo, an international movement of coding clubs run by volunteers for young people around the world. He says: “There are only two countries in the world where code is taught at schools en masse: Estonia and Vietnam. In college it is often too late for students to get really fluent in code, so even if the thinking is joined-up, there are massive drop-out rates and many are coming out ill-equipped to be serious coders.”
Other initiatives such as Codecademy offer similar courses. The challenge is to teach the fundamental skills that future generations will need in the future of work. Formal education will be important, says digital strategist Ade McCormack, as “while anyone can teach themselves programming, if they don’t understand the underlying principles, they are likely to write inelegant software that, in turn, will be poor quality.”
A transformation in teaching is needed
Teaching computer coding in schools offers a ray of hope, and looks set to transform how the industry approaches the IT skills that are needed, both now and in the future. But more official action is needed. For example, in the UK the new school national curriculum is replacing IT with a new subject succinctly called ‘computing’, and children between the ages of 8 and 11 will be able to design and write computer programs that can fulfil specific goals. The change in emphasis is a welcome way to get our children thinking more analytically, instead of simply equipping them with the skills to use IT devices.
Ensuring that coding is taught in schools promises a positive impact on the continued gender gap in computer science and allied fields too. Google has been proactive in this area with its Hangouts on Air, where female engineers talk about their experiences in the industry, and the business has been using its Code Jam (now in its eleventh year) to inspire a new generation of coders.
Is your company involved with getting coding skills into schools?
What initiatives are you seeing succeeding in closing the skills gap?
Contact your local expert today to learn more.
Find out more about David Brown, Executive Vice President of Veredus, A Hays Company.