|Image courtesy of Paul Inkles on Flickr.|
Mark Lassoff, founder of Learntoprogram.tv says,“There aren’t enough people to fill these jobs because technology and the job market are moving much faster than education in high schools and colleges.” Many computing curricula are outdated, teaching children skills they can easily pick up themselves, such as how to use Microsoft’s PowerPoint. In most cases, computing courses are optional and are usually an afterthought. They are more likely to be lumped in with subjects like home economics and textiles than maths and English. In the U.S., only nine states have made computer science courses a graduation requirement.
In the UK, chair of the hi-tech industry campaign Next Gen Skills, Ian Livingstone OBE said: “High-tech, knowledge-based industries are major generators of jobs and growth for London, and need skilled computer programmers to maintain their growth. At the moment London’s schools just aren’t producing enough students with the right knowledge and skills that industry needs. Creative industries, for example, are crying out for graduates who know how to programme and are forced to recruit from abroad.”
According to Mozilla's YouGov Survey, three quarters of young people in the UK want to learn how to make games, apps and websites but only 3% of children have the programming skills required to achieve this. This skill deficit is, to some extent, because traditionally the computing curriculum concentrated on word processing and spreadsheet packages and not on more creative and advanced skills like programming. However, the UK is in the process of creating a new computing curriculum to try and combat this.
|Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.|
Some companies are taking matters into their own hands. For example, Living Social (a daily deal site) could not find the programmers it needed. It ran an experiment (Hungry Academy) to train 24 people to program in just 5 months. The students all graduated and became full-time developers for the company.
So, to conclude, learning to program at any age could be an advantage in the difficult climate that we find ourselves in. However, it seems about time that curricula started to change to fit into the 21st century world (of work and in general). It is also something that is appealing and even 'fun' for many young people that could help them advance their careers from a young age, what have they got to lose? In Part 3 of the series, I will discuss some of the skills that learning to program can help generate.
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