Various events over the past few weeks such as Education Secretary Michael Gove’s proposed shake-up of ICT education within UK schools, and Deloitte’s predictions around ‘Big Data,’ recognise the potential for IT to provide excellent employment opportunities.
The IT industry is at a very exciting turning point; it is an industry that is growing with a wealth of job opportunities, both today and for the future workforce. That said, the current unemployment figures, particularly among 16 – 24 year olds, are a cause for concern and highlight the need to redouble efforts to develop IT talent in the UK.
Even in the current economic climate, companies across the country are growing and many are doing so by investing and innovating with IT. This opens many new and exciting opportunities for young people and it is our challenge, either as the government, employer, educational department or good citizen, to ensure these young people understand what the options are and are excited by their future prospects.
The review of the current ICT curriculum can only be a good thing. Interestingly, just last week it was highlighted that around 46% of kids who leave primary education, having successfully passed their SATs, go on to fail at GCSE, especially in what are described as ‘tougher’ subjects such as maths. Also, if 22% of young people eligible to work are unemployed it raises questions about the skills they have gained to aid their employability.
The UK IT industry can and should play a big role in the changes within IT education of young people. IT organisations should be engaging directly with school pupils by having technology leaders speaking to the pupils within lessons, or offering after school activities to learn more about IT and create excitement.
However, the focus shouldn’t just be on what UK IT Plc.’s can do; it needs to be a collaborative effort with these businesses, but also the government and educational departments. There is no point exciting the future workforce if their curriculum doesn’t back-up what they are learning and enthusiastic about.
If we can think creatively and ambitiously about exciting the broadest possible group to address these challenges, this country will cement its leadership in the IT industry and be in a much stronger position.
By Steve Winter, Managing Director, SAP UK
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