> > #24Days: IT Skills Shortage….

#24Days: IT Skills Shortage….

Posted on Saturday, August 15, 2009 | No Comments

Yesterday I read an article by Hermione Way regarding the lack of up take in IT courses in the young folk of today and the reasons why this is resulting in a bit of skills gap in the IT sector in the UK – you can read and watch her video on the subject here. 


I don’t know how true the report is – I’ve never seen any numbers on the amount of people signing up for IT courses – but assuming it is, then the UK could be in trouble when it comes to fulfilling the IT jobs market of the future.  And as Hermione’s article points out, the only way to get kids of today interested in IT is to make the subject more appealing in today’s schools.


….and its absolutely right, when I did IT as a subject in secondary school, using old Acorn Archimedes machines on what must have been the slowest network in the world, the subject wasn’t filled with fancy technology lessons, highlighting the future possibilities of computers and the internet or anything of any real use.  Instead we learnt how to word process and set up spreadsheets and desktop publishing.  Hardly the types of things that would attract kids to sign up to those courses.


It’s obvious to me then, that in order to attract kids into IT, the courses have to become much more interesting – and I believe it can easily be achieved, thanks to the internet and some great web 2.0.  Kids may not like studying IT subjects, but they sure as hell know how to use social networking in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messaging and email. 


Forget “ICT” (Information Communication Technology), as it’s known now, what schools need to do is rename and rebrand the subject as “IST” or “Information Social Technology” (ok maybe that’s not the best rebrand in the world, perhaps “Digital Social Networking Technology” is better? Perhaps the name is not important?), and instead base assignments and investigation work around the web movement and understanding of the user interactivity and design of sites/ethical use of these very sites.


Kids are already using these technologies, so why not use them as a baseline for creating courses based around these things?  Mix in some basic computer use; Word, Excel, Databases, Computer hardware and networking – but mainly tech the power of the web; search, connectivity, networking (socially), etc.


Additionally, because the web is non-gender specific the course should be able to appealing to both boys and girls.  Yes, removing the “geeky” image away from IT might be next to impossible, but there are non-geeks that work in IT too and by focusing early courses on something that appeals across the genders and to as many people as possible, the subject of IT can become popular within schools again and maybe, just maybe the skills shortage in IT won’t be nearly as bad as thought.

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