Computer coding lessons for children can start a skills revolution

Writing in the Guardian, Lottie Dexter, the founder of the Million Jobs Campaign, says the introduction of new classes in school could help tackle youth unemployment crisis…

From September, computer coding will be taught in schools across England to children aged five and over. This trailblazing education policy could spark a skills revolution and help get to grips with on one of the biggest issues facing the developed world…

A recent survey from Lord Adonis found roughly half of employers saw the lack of skills to be a major barrier to growth and a McKinsey report last month noted 27% of European employers leave entry-level jobs unfilled as a result. This is a travesty, when we have a generation of untapped potential and nearly a million people, in Britain alone, sitting on the sidelines. It is essential, therefore, that young people leave schools and universities with 21st century skills, work experience and a work-ready attitude. Our economy has changed but our workforce has not, and unless we join these dots youth unemployment will prevail.

Learning code, the language used to instruct computers, is a crucial skill for the 21st century. It helps us design our own future and bring our ideas to life. Let’s take Jermaine: he taught himself to code when he was just eight and he was building websites aged 10. A few years down the line, when Jermaine fell behind at university, he built Revision App to make it easy for his class to share course notes and discuss modules in detail. Revision App now has more than one million users and employs eight people. Jermaine has used code to achieve all of this and he is just 24 years-old.

Jermaine encapsulates the potential of code. It is an essential tool that helps people start or build a business, boost their earnings potential and get a job in any industry, not just the booming scientific and technical sectors. As the leading economist Klaus Schwab said at Davos last week, traditional ways of thinking will not solve global unemployment and workers need to focus on gaining the skills that are most in demand, such as technology and science.

The government has acted early on this and England is setting an example to other countries in the G20 by introducing computer coding to the core schools curriculum in September. However, fears are growing that teachers feel uncertain about taking these new classes.

To help the smooth implementation of this ground-breaking policy and to reboot our education system, on 4 February Million Jobs will join a collective of organisations – large and small – to launch the Year of Code. We want people to get excited about the power of potential of computer science, to start learning code and to begin a 21st century skills drive.

After all, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the world wide web this year and young people across the country will sit down in classrooms to write their first lines of computer code, 2014 really is the Year of Code.

Lottie Dexter is the founder of the Million Jobs Campaign. The Year of Code launches on 4 February at the RSA, London.

More at: Computer coding lessons for children can start a skills revolution

Are you excited like @Lottiedexter about the impact teaching coding might have on youth unemployment? Do you feel uncertain about taking these new classes and if so, what kind of help would you most appreciate now?Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Comments

  1. TW

    That’s all lovely.

    The reality is that –

    (a) Not everyone is going to be good at coding no matter how much exposure to it they have.

    (b) Give or take the odd bit of inventive brilliance the main requirement is for programmers to do normal programming work.  For that they have to be employed.  As British employers largely refuse to employ anyone who doesn’t already have lots of programming work experience it makes no difference how much training or education in programming they may have.

  2. bobharrisonset

    dan_bowen Another myth promulgated that answer to unemployment and future prosperity of UK is “more coding”? More Digital skills perhaps?

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