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The Tech Skills Gap - Around the World: UK

May 9, 2016

 

 

European Skills Gap

In Europe the technology skills gap was originally estimated to be 820,000 by 2020.  That number was reduced to 756,000 in 2015.  This drop correlates to a rise in the number of students choosing to study ICT across Europe.  John Higgins, Director General of digital technology association Digital Europe, said the narrowing of the skills gap is "excellent news after eight years of hard work, lead by the European Commission, to address this problem".  

 

United Kingdom

The 'International Technology Adoption & Workforce Issues Study' conducted by ComTIA between February 22nd and March 23rd, 2013 amoung 1,256 IT and business executives found that 85% of UK executives indicated at least some degree of gaps in IT skills at their business. For 37%, the reported skills gaps are small, while for 48% the gaps are more extensive.  Top negative effects of IT skills gaps at UK businesses: 

  1. Lower staff productivity (30%)

  2. Less than idea customer service and ineffective innovation (26%)

  3. Poor customer service/customer engagement (26%)

  4. Security/defending against malware, hacking, etc. (22%) 

  5. Speed to market with new products or services (17%) 

To read more about the International Technology Adoption & Workforce Issues Study follow the attached link:   (http://www.slideshare.net/comptia/international-technology-adoption-workforce-issues-study-uk-summary)

 

One of the exciting things happening in the UK is that they have made computing a mandatory subject to be taught between the ages of five and 16.  ( http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500243671/New-computing-curriculum-inspires-tech-expert-to-retrain-as-teacher  ) The goal was to produce children with computational thinking from an early age.  

 

According to Michael Gove, "Our new curriculum teaches children computer science, information technology and digital ligeracy:  teaching them how to code, and how to create their own programs; not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for you."  

 

Why did the UK decide to introduce this new curriculum? 

The change came because technology companies were complaining that the UK had not been producing enough graduates qualified to fill vacancies.  

 

Are there any additional benefits? 

According to Sophie Deen, head of Code Club Pro, which has been running training sessions for teachers, "We're not just trying to encourage people to become developers. We're trying to encourage children to become creative."  Bill Mitchell, director of education and BCS, is quoted as saying "If you teach computing and do it right, you can help children develop their learning in literacy and numeracy." 

 

What will the child learn at each of the three stages? 

Key Stage 1 (5-6 year-olds): Children will be learning what algorithms are, which will not always involve computers. When explained as “a set of instructions” teachers may illustrate the idea using recipes, or by breaking down the steps of children’s morning routines. But they will also be creating and debugging simple programs of their own, developing logical reasoning skills and taking their first steps in using devices to “create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content”.

 

Key Stage 2 (7-11 year-olds): Slightly older primary-school children will be creating and debugging more complicated programs with specific goals and getting to grips with concepts including variables and “sequence, selection, and repetition in programs”. They will still be developing their logical reasoning skills and learning to use websites and other internet services. And there will be more practice at using devices for collecting, analysing and presenting back data and information.

 

Key Stage 3 (11-14 year-olds): Once children enter senior school they will be using two or more programming languages – “at least one of which is textual” – to create their own programs. Schools and teachers will be free to choose the specific languages and coding tools. Pupils will be learning simple Boolean logic (the AND, OR and NOT operators, for example), working with binary numbers, and studying how computer hardware and software work together.

 

At all these levels, children will also be studying computer and internet safety, including how to report concerns about “content or contact” online. The full breakdown of the changes can be found here.

 

How did the implementation go? 

The implementation  was not without challenges and many schools said they did not have enough time or support to prepare for the lauch.  In a survey by MyKindaCrowd said that 54% of secondary teachers believed their students knew more about ICT and computing than they did.  74% of teachers said that they did not have the skills to deliver the curriculum - and nor did they believe they had the time to acquire those skills.

 

What Support was Available for Teachers?  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/04/coding-school-computing-children-programming

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