IT skills as vital as the ‘three Rs’

Chancellor and Education Secretary launch new campaign, Year of Code, to drive millions more to learn computer code

With technology disrupting the jobs market and placing ever-greater emphasis on computer skills, parents now believe learning to code – the language of computing – is an important skill to have.

According to research by YouGov for Year of Code, a national campaign being launched by the Chancellor George Osborne and Education Secretary Michael Gove later today, as a nation we now believe getting a good job depends as much on technology know-how as reading, writing and basic maths.

The study comes ahead of a landmark change to school timetables later this year, when coding – the language we use to tell computers what to do from playing music and making games to controlling our heating and building websites and apps – becomes compulsory for every child aged 5-16 years old in England.

England is the first major G20 economy to place coding at the heart of the school curriculum on a national level.

‘Computer coding is the lingua franca of the global technology economy,” Rohan Silva, Chairman of Year of Code. “If the UK is to remain at the vanguard of innovation worldwide, we need to ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills of the 21st century, not of the past. Year of Code is all about making sure this vital change takes place – and fast.’

Lottie Dexter, Director of Year of Code, added: “In recent years our economy has changed but our workforce has not. If we are going to crack high levels of youth unemployment, we must ensure that all young people leave school with the right skills for the jobs market.

‘However, while the introduction of computing coding in classrooms will be crucial, we also need to ensure the nation is excited about the power and potential of computer science. Over the next twelve months Year of Code will demystify coding and create an understanding of why it is so integral to our daily lives.’

Year of Code surveyed nearly 4,000 adults and 800 parents ac ahead of Skills 2014, a conference about Skills for the 21st Century taking place in London this week. The study found that:

·      Nearly 60% of those questioned thought computer coding was a vital skill for today’s job market. Of those polled, 94% considered general IT skills to be essential to work-readiness, as important as literacy and numeracy.

·      94% of those with children aged 5-16 consider computer skills to be important for today’s job market, roughly the same number as those who say the same of literacy and 95 per cent who say the same for numeracy.

·      In London, 98% believe computer skills to be important, higher than those who rate both numeracy and literacy to be vital, said Year of Code.

·      By contrast, only 62% of parents across Britain believe it is important to know a foreign language.

·   Parents are also keen to make sure their children leave school with better computer skills than they have themselves. Only 19% of adults say they are ‘very good’ with personal computer skills and 13% admit they are ‘fairly bad’. But most never learned code as youngsters and many have never learned it since.

The poll also discovered that only 10% of adults knew computer coding, yet nearly 50% of those polled said that they would like to learn. The addition of coding to the school curriculum in September will address this, as the Government seeks to equip current and future workers for the 21st Century economy – and develop, in the UK, one of the most technology-savvy workforces in the world.

More information is available at www.yearofcode.org and follow @ukcoding on twitter.

 

 

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