New research says parents think kids should code

AIIA digital skillsNew research has found that 8 in 10 Australian parents think that digital skills and computer programming should be integrated into primary and secondary curricula. The research also found that 61 per cent of parents believe it is important that children learn how to design, build or program computer applications.

The findings of this research are included in the Digital Skills and Careers Report released today by the Australian Information Industry Association ( AIIA).  Undertaken in collaboration with National ICT Australia (NICTA) and the Australia Computer Society (ACS), the research reinforces concerns regarding the deficit in the national school curriculum which is playing itself out in Australia’s comparative under-performance across science, technology, engineering and mathematics capabilities.

“Undertaken just prior to Christmas the research found that 95 per cent of parents would support their child’s decision to pursue a digital career.” Suzanne Campbell, CEO of AIIA said.

In the next ten years, as more content becomes digitised and processes automated, more jobs will require digital skills, and technology will become an even bigger part of our homes and workplaces.

This is not just an issue for the future.  As recently as last week it was reported that the IT industry has led the Australian jobs market with the largest proportion of new job ads – some 10.7 per cent of total Seek new job advertisements in 2014. In fact the industry now represents the largest employment advertising classification – with the sector predicted to grow further in 2015.

This digitisation is setting the scene for fundamental transformations in our economy. It is important that young people not only know “how to use” technology, but also “how it works”, and can be used to develop innovative new content and applications.

If you are an advocate of kids learning to code, there’s nothing terribly surprising in the survey. However, the indicated level of support does raise the question: Why on earth is more not being done to meet this perceived need? It would be really interesting to carry out a similar survey amongst teachers to see what they think of the students need to learn coding, where the roadblocks are, and which other subjects should cede time and resources to coding. Because whatever else is going on, the changes to the curriculum are simply not pointing to a future where students have learnt these skills.

It’s clear our country needs graduates with digital technology skills for a competitive future; it’s clear those graduates need those skills for their own job prospects; it’s clear parents want their kids to have those skills. It’s simply not clear why we seem to be failing to make real progress in dealing with that.

The Digital Skills and Careers Report is worth a read.

Image: AIIA, Digital Skills and Careers Report.

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