March 27, 2018 3:08 pm
Written by Ellie Wilding
4 reasons all schools should get students excited about careers in technology
Jen Cleary previously worked as a teacher in a secondary school and is now a turn IT on Curriculum Specialist across our schools in London with a passion for Digital Innovation and is a SEMH specialist.
This week she gives her reasons why its important for students to get excited about careers in technology.
1 – The STEM industry needs it.
According to The Wellcome Trust, in a ‘state of the nation’ report on UK Primary schools, science is taught, on average, for 1 hour and 24 minutes a week. This is far below the 2 hour recommended amount, and more worryingly this also means that a large chunk of Primary Schools deliver even less than that to students.
Whilst I can only guess at how many hours of computing students are getting, I fear that these statistics point to an anxiety-inducing trend. One which, if we are not careful, could leave us significantly without any new STEM talent in entry-level jobs of the future. Engineers, tech companies and even the teaching profession are all concerned about the lack of interested graduates in these subjects, willing to fill the jobs that they have in abundance.
2 – Building enthusiasm also builds learning power.
Excitement starts early. Even in Key Stage 1 children make decisions about what skills they do and don’t find easy, and about what kind of learning they like or hate. For most at this age enjoyment for learning comes directly from kinesthetic experiences, and its relationship to real life. Imagination games explore the roles of nurses, doctors, police, teachers and parents; whilst the toys that they are playing with (from dolls, to footballs and robots) are all packed with meaning about gender and identity. If you can get your students to aspire to be astronauts, engineers or wildlife enthusiasts this early on, then that classroom engagement is already going to be in place by the time they secondary.
3 – We need more women and girls, desperately!
Engagement with technology, and setting high expectations of future careers, is especially important for girls. Whole hosts of industry-funded reports estimate that the numbers of women in Computer Science jobs is between 15-25%, whilst the numbers of women in executive positions at tech companies is around a measly 10%. There is no doubt that for the next generation changes need to be made to the way we are presenting these jobs to girls, preferably from an early age, but the way to do that remains hotly debated.
One thing is sure however, girls need to be reminded that these subjects are for them, and their ideas are just as valid as the boys. When was the last time you actively tried to ask more questions to the girls than the boys in a science or computing lesson? Have you considered asking in a female role model, working in STEM, to talk to the students about what they do?
Seeing yourself represented in these jobs from an early age can have a huge impact on how you see yourself as you grow older, and teachers are at the very forefront of creating those experiences.
4 – Tech helps us all – even if we don’t end up there!
In a report published earlier this week, the DfE has said that 50% of businesses have difficulty recruiting the digitally skilled labour they need, and more importantly, those necessary digital skills are constantly changing. Being able to cope in the workplace is no longer about Excel and Powerpoint, and much more about the flexibility to use and learn new software, on a variety of operating systems. Graduates now need to be able to manage social media and websites as well as understand implicitly the role new technology is playing in our everyday lives.
Perhaps it’s time we tried to squeeze a bit more STEM learning into our curriculums and give a helping hand to the future that we want our children to have.
Are you already doing it?
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