Prior to joining STEM Learning, I have always taken an interest in the developing the skills of young people for potential recruiters and making sure that they are equipped with the tools and knowledge to be able to adapt and remain employed.
As a parent, it’s important to me to be able to guide my children on what skills and trades they might want to consider, and, in turn, what GCSE options they should choose to make sure that they were not disadvantaged in the career choices by not having the “right” entry qualifications.
With jobs being constantly created and adapted, I wasn’t really informed about the developments in working practice, what employers are looking for and what the future skills might be.
My youngest son is taking his GCSE options this spring, and we recently attended the World Skills Competition. Having been four years ago with my older son, what struck me was the huge range of “new jobs” now being demonstrated, and the prevalence of technological job roles within the exhibition.
It was particularly interesting to see the role of virtual reality in promoting new job roles in the emerging sectors, demonstrating the commissioning of a nuclear power station or how a modern factory might be digitalised in the future.
Whilst I know not everyone will want to be a programmer, many jobs now have a digital element – it is predicted that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills.
Many young people could end up in jobs that do not currently exist, for example careers in cybersecurity now make up 15% of UK-based IT jobs and are set to grow by 10% each year until 2020. Our children need to be able to adapt to the future needs of the economy and have the skills to do so, with a good understanding of the basic principles of logic and algorithms. The more adaptable we encourage our children to be, the more opportunities that are open to them in the future.
I am already challenging the provision of computer science as an option for GCSE and A level in schools within my local area, having seen the huge range of possibilities that are open to our young children if we give them the underpinning skills to embrace the future technology that the wider world might offer.
As parents and governors of schools, we all have the power to ask challenging questions of school leadership around how they are equipping our children to be best prepared to address the challenges of the future as well as they can.
I encourage you to get your schools and teachers to access the support offered by the National Centre for Computing Education. Our aim is for every child in every school in England to have a world-leading computing education and we will achieve this if we start to influence our school leaders to invest in this important part of the national curriculum.
About the author
Claire Arbery is the GCSE lead for the National Centre of Computing Education, supporting the upskilling of secondary teachers to support the teaching of computer science at GCSE level.