The widening skills gap in many burgeoning industries is a topic that frequently gets included in front page news on the future of work. Much emphasis is placed on how companies are struggling to find job candidates with the right qualifications and education, but less is placed on how educational institutions are responding.
A new report from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) asks whether there's anything to be done for the lack of diversity in the tech field, which seems to arise in high school and college and percolate into the workforce from there. The research project called on university representatives and industry experts to examine questions of diversity in computer science.
The number of open computer science jobs is continuing to grow and drawing the attention of educators and industry to the urgent need for comprehensive K-12 computer science education. “Computer science skills are clearly in high demand, but low supply,” said Mark Sparvell, senior manager of educational marketing at Microsoft.
Underqualified. Overwhelmed. Underfunded. Those are among the reasons teachers give, in a new survey, as to why they or other educators at their school don’t teach students computer science -- on the first day of the annual Computer Science Education Week.
Code.org names nine varieties of policy that states can create to promote computer science education, and these fall into four categories: policies that create plans and set standards; policies that allocate funding or increase capacity by training teachers; policies that create dedicated computer science positions inside state government agencies; and policies that integrate computer science more tightly into school and university curriculums.
Talk of education policy--or any policy, for that matter--can often be dry, divisive or both. But when it comes to policy that expands access to computer science education, legislators tend to be interested and in agreement. That, plus rapid tech adoption by schools and a major push from advocacy organizations, explains why nearly every U.S. state has adopted at least one policy requiring, standardizing or funding computer science education in schools.
CS education has moved from a "nice to have" to a "must have," and districts nationwide are grappling the challenge of implementing a new K-12 discipline in an already full school day and resource-constrained system. Fortunately, many states and districts have already launched CS education initiatives, and forged a path for others to follow, like St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado.
When representatives of North America’s state and provincial technology associations gathered last week in Iowa, the conversations ranged from analyzing data to building partnerships to speculation on when Big Tech’s balloon might lose some air -- a forecast quickly followed by the Facebook and Twitter stock drops. If there was a topic that dominated the conference in Des Moines’ reborn downtown, however, it was how to keep America’s talent pipeline filled.
It is time we reprioritized how we think about education -- not in terms of federal, state, or local expenditures, but in terms of the quality of education our citizens receive as an investment in our nation’s defense. For a well-resourced country like the United States to be undereducated and underskilled in today’s world not only is economically and socially reprehensible, it undermines current and future national security.
The investment will act as “seed money” for the 14-year-old association, said Jane Broom, Microsoft’s senior director of philanthropies in Washington state. CSTA has subsisted on corporate donations and volunteer efforts to build out its regional chapters, Broom said, but in order to empower computer science educators in the same way that other associations support teachers in other subjects...