Simon Harbridge on the Year of Code programme

BLOG: The IT industry needs to support the Year of Code

Stone Group’s CEO, Simon Harbridge, discusses how the Year of Code programme could do with help from the IT industry and why all teachers should improve their computer skills.

Last month, Osborne and Gove launched Year of Code to raise programming awareness, both inside the new curriculum and out. Even ‘job-hunters, mums and Lords’ were targets, according to the website.

Stone Group is in full appreciation of the Year of Code, it’s going to raise the profile of a skill that will be more and more standard as this decade progresses, for anyone looking for a job that involves ICT. Also, anything that helps ICT teachers to teach the right e-skills, get children to choose technology as a career path or be confident in using computers at work is vital. The new computing curriculum is a big change for teaching in 2014, and must feel like a weighty responsibility.

However, I don’t think it’s all down to teachers and schools, and the action should go beyond the backing of the high-profile digiterati involved in Year of Code.

If, like our business at Stone Group, other IT employers expect skilled technology workers, we should be doing more too. Hardware, software, services and resellers should be doing more to invest funding into extra curricular schemes and invest time into mentoring teachers. If this investment from the government was combined with support from the IT industry then a difference could be made.

The Year of Code website also has some very telling stats on its homepage, including that one in six people lack basic digital skills, and that 50 per cent of people want to learn to code.

Translate this back into education, and it seems that this drive for better ICT skills should be aimed at all teachers, not just those teaching ICT. From student teachers with no experience of anything bar their own laptops, to long-term staff worrying about increased responsibility for Wi-Fi networks, servers and a new fleet of tablets, is there a big skills gap? All teachers have to make the most of the tech equipment they are being asked to use to teach kids and maintain a digitally switched on school. This should be the first line of the algorithm for success that the Year of Code must get right.

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