Advanced technology has given us a COVID vaccine, eco-friendly cars and AI for our homes, so how will the world continue to change for your students? This piece acts as an introduction to a series of articles that will attempt to answer this question, and many more, centred around computing skills and a changing world.
With the world of work becoming increasingly digitalised, it seems that nothing can stop how fast technology is taking over our education system, and in schools and universities around the world, Computer Science is becoming less of a speciality and more of a necessity. As the fastest growing subject, the British Computing Society reported that over the period 2021 to 2022, the number of students applying to take Computer Science A-level has increased by 18%, and applications to Computer Science related university degrees have gone up by 13%, the biggest increase of any UK university subject. Although a striking statistic, it is not surprising that more and more children (and parents!) are beginning to understand the true scope of the importance of Computer Science skills. Not only does this include coding and robotics but fundamental skills such as problem solving and logical thinking, which fall within the area of Computational Thinking. Students without these skills are finding themselves to be less employable, and worse equipped to navigate a vastly changing world.
In a recent Employer skills survey, it is reported that as many as 30% of skill-shortage vacancies involve a lack of digital skills. But do not worry, for schools and universities are vastly changing their curriculums to better fit the needs of students. For example, Queen Mary University of London has become the first Russell Group university to offer two new degree apprenticeships in Computer Science subjects, including IT consultancy and data analytics. This will also be supplemented by Price Waterhouse Coopers, who will be offering these students occupational experiences as well as a monthly salary, making Computer Science more accessible as well as creating a platform towards future Computer Science careers.
These career opportunities are diverse, from Cybersecurity to Forensic Technology, and span a wealth of interests in emerging fields. The UK Government is also funding universities to create new AI and data science conversion courses, which include 1,000 scholarships for people from under-represented groups. The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, Rishi Sunak, who, following London Tech Week, had this to say: “From modelling the effects of climate change, to powering the discovery of new drugs and increasing business innovation, the capabilities of advanced compute are endless.”
Computational Thinking is a basic competence that exists in all areas of our lives. Computational Thinking includes important transferable skills, such as problem solving, logical thinking, non-verbal reasoning, and thinking about cause and effect. These skills are not just for children but adults too.
Computational Thinking is in many ways the hidden skill set that many careers rely on – from law, to engineering, medicine, art, and many more. It influences everything that we do in our lives. Computational Thinking is set to become more essential in the future as we transition to a digital world.