In education news. “All children should learn how to code” says Professor Cardinal Warde, a Caribbean born professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and President of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science Technology & Innovation.
“How we live, work and play is now shaped by networked computing. Children need to understand how their technologically advanced world works. They also need to embrace a new way of thinking about problem solving – computational thinking. Coding is now, quite simply, an essential part of literacy in the 21st century, no matter what their career ambitions.”
Professor Warde is just one of many leading thinkers around the world with this view. Here in the UK, there is a particular urgency attached to getting young people excited about computer science. New research by the UK Commission of Employment and Skills revealed that the next ten years will see a massive growth in the digital economy. Since 2009, employment in this sector has grown more than three times the national average. Nearly 300,000 higher level recruits will be needed by 2020. There is particular demand for IT architects, big data and security specialists.
However, those interested in careers in computer science need to be careful. It is a mistake to focus exclusively on qualifications and skills which new technologies or automation could one day quite easily wipe out. Many a computer science graduate over the past two decades was left in this unfortunate position.
An expert coder, however, will be well equipped to master new technologies as and when they come onstream. Moreover, expert coders enjoy tremendous job prospects both now and for the forseeable future. A GFK survey revealed that 90% of firms in East London’s fast growing “Tech City” experience difficulty in finding coders and developers.
Coding at a young age could ignite a passion which could lead to a rewarding career in computer science down the road. However, whatever their career ambitions, coding will teach young people important computational thinking skills which are critical for problem solving in today’s technologically advanced world.
Caribbean parents and teachers can encourage young people to write their first computer programme with http://www.code.org/ (it’s free). Kids should enjoy creating their own interactive stories, games and animations on Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s http://www.scratch.mit.edu/ which they can share with others world over (this is also free).
This is the fifth article in the six part “Jobs and the Future” series by the CADSTI Future Think Project, an initiative of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation (UK). For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
©Future Think 28 November 2013