Computer science education week: experts discuss preparing the next generation for a digitally-led world of work
Computer Science Education Week is an annual call to action to inspire today’s students to learn computer science to better prepare them for the world of work. But while new innovations such as Generative AI and quantum computing are significantly changing the way businesses work, the UK is suffering from a digital skills gap. In fact, a recent report found that 93% of businesses report an IT skills shortage. It’s therefore more critical than ever that the next generation of students have familiarity with the tools that will shape the future, and plug the ever-growing skills gap.
We asked three tech experts to share their opinions on the significance of this Computer Science Education Week below:
The future of AI is humans
Nat Natarajan, CPO at G-P highlights the increasing adoption of AI within businesses, but as he notes, the human element still remains essential:
“The adoption of AI and other emerging technologies is not slowing down. If anything, even more companies will have an AI offering or partnership in the next year. While more than nine in 10 (93%) employees are excited about potential uses of AI at work, businesses will find themselves in need of a balance between new technologies and the essential human element.
“In a world witnessing AI revolutions, it’s essential to remember the heart of our journey is humanity. AI is intelligent, but humans are wise. Organisations must set strategies where technology complements and supports human work by making it more efficient and scalable rather than replacing it”.
Investing in workplace upskilling
Aaron Skonnard, CEO, Pluralsight highlights the importance of continued upskilling, beyond the naturally evolving skills of today’s youth, integrated even in the workplace. He says:
“Technology is advancing rapidly, from Generative AI to quantum computing. Although younger workers are considered ‘digitally-native’ with huge potential to embrace the latest technology, we are seeing that they may actually be less equipped for the future of technical work than we thought. The pace of technological change has created a marked gap between the tech skills learnt in traditional education and the ones needed to succeed in the modern tech industry.
“In fact, 37% of young people believe that school is not adequately preparing them to work in a digital-first world and concerns around a STEM teacher shortage are compounding this issue. Data shows the UK Government will miss its teacher trainee recruitment target for the second year in a row – 9 out of 17 secondary subjects, including computing and technology, will be at least 20% below the targets.
“To overcome this, businesses must invest in upskilling opportunities for young workers once they are in the workplace. Tech learning solutions such as online learning, bootcamps, apprenticeships, and certification paths are all effective ways to supplement traditional education and help younger workers build the tech skills needed to cement their position in the workplace of the future.”
The importance of coding skills early on
Mark Gray, UK&I Country Manager at Universal Robots agrees. He notes:
“This Computer Science Education Week, emphasis must be placed upon the importance of teaching young people coding skills. Coding is critical to any career in AI or automation. As businesses continue on their journey to digitally transform operations, the role of AI continues to grow in prominence as a tool to increase efficiency and productivity.
“The International Federation of Robotics estimates that robots will be used by more than 50% of production operators in a decade to assist workers with tedious manual tasks that require a high degree of precision, in industries, such as manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
“To prepare the next generation of talent to lead industries through these changes, with the technical and creative know-how to integrate robots or collaborative robots (cobots) smoothly into the workplace, we must bring coding skills to the fore and bring robotics into mainstream education.
“Academies that blend online and in-person training can help students master new coding skills – making them more employable for a future that will require expertise in how machines are programmed, especially as the tech becomes commonplace.”
As the demand for better digital skills continues to grow, it’s clear that the need to train and upskill the next generation starts in the classroom but extends far beyond too. Businesses and educators must take the opportunity of Computer Science Education Week to ensure they are equipping their staff and students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace of the future.