11 August 2016
We talk so much of the skills gap in the technology industry that I am quite fed up of hearing about it! It’s a rhetoric that has run for too long; in 2016 you would think that Britain would be in a position to compete with the rest of the world when it comes to digital literacy and technological skillsets, but we’re not.
So what do we do about it?
I say we take it into our own hands. For example, every school holiday we open the doors to our training and education department to six- to 14-year-olds for our Code Club.
It’s something we started quite some time ago. Working with 57,000 pupils across Greater Manchester, we’ve seen first-hand the gaps in computer science, IT and digital literacy in traditional education, but the demand from the kids is there!
The demand is so high that we’ve had to extend the sessions, create more each holiday and yet we’re still over-subscribed!
Kids these days are hungry to learn. Yes, there’s still a potential issue with children just sitting in front of a screen all day, pressing buttons, following commands and playing games; but we’re seeing a huge increase in children who want to make the games, to know how they work, not just to play them.
Working with Python, Raspberry Pis and soon with our new Microbit, our Code Clubs put tech in the hands of these children and allows them to play with it.
Yesterday we held one of our biggest Code Club sessions yet and I was delighted to hear that a couple of the older children who’d been a couple of times are set to teach their own teams at the next session. Children who had previously had no experience of coding or the hands-on areas of tech are so involved and absorbed that they’re already able to teach the younger children what to do!
It is incredible to see.
I was extraordinarily proud to hear that our Code Club has now been recognised as an official Star Club by the Code Club organisation. And that our training team no longer lead the session, our apprentices do. A team of some of our newest apprentice recruits have taken it upon themselves to take it over, to build session plans and activities and to get the children engaged with tech. These teenagers are already having a huge impact on the next generation of tech superstars.
Perhaps we need to stop talking about the skills gap and start talking about the amazing initiatives that are in place to tackle it. The more we talk about Code Clubs and the demand from children for this area of education, the higher it will become on the agenda.
Digital literacy is essential across all areas of the modern workplace, not just in the technology industry and if we are to set these young people up for successful careers, to be the next innovators and entrepreneurs, leaders and world-changers, we need to equip them with these essential skills.
What do you think?