The IT skills gap is now well documented and there are a few initiatives going on around the world that seek to address the issue. In the UK we’re about to see Computer Science come in as a core subject in the curriculum which goes beyond the current ICT qualification and introduces coding and understanding how computers are put together.
At the moment, ICT is more concerned with using applications than anything else and whilst this is of course valuable when it comes to workplace skills, it’s not going to get anyone a job as an engineer or programmer.
Made With Code - Google Initiative
A new initiative from Google seeks to address the skills gap and the lack of women in IT. Last month the search giants announced that just 17% of its technology employees are women. With this in mind, the company has launched Made With Code, a website that provides access to coding projects and an event that’s aimed at high school girls that is due to be held in New York next week.
“Coding is a fundamental skill that’s going to be a part of almost everything,” Megan Smith, VP of Google[x], told TIME. “So for kids to really at a minimum just be able to express themselves in code and make things and feel confident, that would be important — no matter what their career is.”
Girl Coding Groups
The initiative also saw Google teaming up with girl coding groups in order to get together a national database that allows parents to find a ‘coding camp’ near where they live.
“One of the most important things that we can do is get girls into our computer-science classrooms across our country, including elementary school,” said Smith. “Vietnam is teaching computer science from second grade. Malaysia, China — we’re seeing the U.K. starting to do this at an elementary level. So the best thing to do would be to get them into our schools.”
There are a number of projects that girls can take part in on the Made With Code site, so girls don’t have to wait for special camps to get started. A bracelet can be made and then 3D printed and sent to the participant by mail, for example. Something that’s bound to appeal to lots of teenage wannabe coders.
Connect with Industry Mentors
Girls can also connect with mentors that work in the industry to see where they can apply learned skills in the tech workplace, which will help them to map out careers. Google has pledged a $15m investment into the project over the next five years in computer science grants for the most talented and also teamed up with organisations such as the Girl Scouts to further encourage coding amongst the ladies.
Let’s hope that the UK can follow suit in some way, for girls as well as boys. However, a lot of the time it’s down to parent misconceptions as to the value of learning technology subjects. I recently read an article which stated that parents don’t think digital and computer science skills are valuable, or will lead to a career – that’s a perception that most definitely needs changing.
For more info on the Made With Code initiative, check out the video below.