It’s not news that there’s a global IT skills shortage. Kids are growing up with computers, but they’re not being taught in schools how to tinker with them, how to code for them, or how to fix them. Often, kids don’t begin to learn these skills until they’re in university, if at all.
Thanks to the internet and some passionate IT professionals around the world, children with an interest in computers now have other options.
Last year, Code.org launched the ‘Hour of Code’, an initiative designed to show people of all age groups, genders and countries that they can learn how to create a program.
The programme was a huge success – seven days after its launch, 15 million people from 170 countries completed an hour of code, and one in five US students took part.
Then there are educational games that can teach kids these skills and help them have fun, too – not just solitary video games, but board games that can be played with parents and friends. Technology innovation website VentureBeat has a great list of them, along with commentary from IT and education experts.
Closer to home, Victoria University in Wellington sees the benefits of beginning to teach students IT skills before they get into tertiary education. The university is piloting an after-school programme for high school students – years 10 to 13 – to teach them about various technologies, with the intent of helping to produce more digitally literate adults.
Of course, providing avenues for kids to learn only tackles one of the two major problems with getting students into IT. There is still a lingering perception that only geeks work in IT – a topic for a future blog.