Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

How to encourage more young people to envisage a degree in ICT ?

Discussion

The recent ICT in schools survey shows that students and teachers in Europe are keen to "go digital". The computer numbers have doubled since 2006 and most schools are now "connected", but use of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) and digital skill levels are very uneven. How can we make the ICT skills and training  available to all students and teachers in Europe? Is it a good way to spark youth interest in ICT career?

How we can encourage youth to choose ICT degree and later pursue their career in ICT? What other ideas do you have in order to increase the number of ICT professionals and fill 1 MLN jobs in ICT gap

 

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Comments

Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Dear Karl, definitely at the core of GC4J are the initiatives that will fill the skills gap but you are right that meeting social challenges with the use of ICT may be also a source of inspiration for young people and therefore a driver for choosing an ICT career.
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Phil Thompson's picture

The prevailing model of ICT teaching in UK schools has been "operator training" for Microsoft Office products, by and large. Creating word documents, powerpoint presentations, spreadsheets etc. We have had very little programming or "computer science" instruction, although the movement around the Raspberry Pi single board computer may influence that in the future. It seems odd that buying new low spec hardware might be necessary to influence teaching practices, as the existing equipment could be booted into the same Operating System as a Raspberry Pi, but perhaps that's the sort of step change we need - make a computer cheap and friendly rather than an expensive box surrounded by restrictions. In an EU discussion the linguistics of what is "ICT", "Computer Science" etc may need explaining between participants from different Member States.
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Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Thom, agree that ICT education should be not about teaching how to handle simple Office applications. Programming skills are much more important for the future professions. But also, as Rick Chandler in his opinion in Computer Weekly points out that we need teachers that are better prepared for teaching ICT. "The current school cohort is digitally native; ICT is evident in every activity of their lives except their education. They are able to research, through the internet, every topic they need but lack a valid curriculum and teacher guidance on achieving it." As for the definitions, point taken. ICT, Computer Science, STEM subjects definition need to be introduced in the discussion to have a common ground for debate.
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Jonathan Murray's picture

Could it be that ICT is boring at school because school managed to rob ICT of its interactive component? As early as in 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested in “Emile” - his treaty on education – that making learning interactive - even student-centric - is instrumental to match the undivided attention our kids give to their screens: “Put questions within his reach and let him find a solution: he shouldn’t learn science but invent it”.

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Ian Clifford's picture

Parents have a role to play in helping their children understand the entrepreneurial opportunities ICT could offer them in their careers. Parents are not supported or encouraged to do this. I wrote a blog about this a few months ago under the title "A Golden Age of Entrepreneurs" http://iancli.blogspot.co.uk
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Cristina Juesas's picture

Many parents don't know anything about ICT... It's easier to teach teachers (train the trainer) and it would be easy as well to give the parents some training from School Parents Associations, etc...

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Paul Foley's picture

A couple of years ago I ran some workshops with ICT centre managers. One of the largest problems they encountered was that many who visited for 'taster' sessions lacked the basic levels of literacy to undertake simple online searches. Many ended up forging mutually beneficial cross-referral partnerships with adult learning centres. Levels of functional literacy (reading and writing skills adequate "to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.") in many Member States for those over 16 are surprisingly high - 22.6% in Ireland, 21.8% in UK, 19.8% in France. The problem, for many, extends beyond having the motivation and access to ICT.
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Jonathan Murray's picture

The Commision has done much to attract young people to ICT careers through its e-Skills Week campaigns. (http://eskills-week.ec.europa.eu/web/guest;jsessionid=8188CEB07BD486FCA0...). As we know, messages need to repeated, repeated and yes repeated before they sink in (the specialist say 7 is the magical number)...so lets continue creating such awareness through similar campaigns

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Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Jonathan, campaigns are indeed very effective, especially if they promote new role models and go against stereotype of the boring ICT job a lot of people have towards a more exciting jobs that are making use of ICT such as game & graphic designers, web enterpreneurs or data scientists.

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Linda Liukas's picture

A few remarks from my own meandering path in technology (I've never had a formal education in tech):

Working with technology is creative - it's not a silo of repetitive, lonely and introverted work. All developers I know is constantly learning, challenging themselves and working with a group of global peers. When I get stuck with a problem, I don't necessarily ask someone sitting next to me - I'll reach out to others all around the world.

And as someone mentioned there's a whole new cadre of professions being born for people who can apply technology. I don't necessarily think code wins all arguments, but the ability to build your ideas, get the data you need or to share a language of 21st century be it JavaScript or something else, will be immensely valuable. It will be as valuable as being able to speak english- not everyone needs to have a PhD in english, but ability to express yourself without constant help from others makes a difference.

And finally - the role models. I think code.org has done a wildly successful job in channeling the clearest version of the correct message in their campaigns. Time for us in Europe to think who our coding superheroes would be?

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