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Why I.T and science are king

why-it-and-science-are-keyWe’ve all been taught that reading, writing and arithmetic are the foundation of education. But in today’s world it’s more like HTML, JavaScript and Python.

For the non-tech parents out there, these are web coding languages, and they’re languages that your digital native child is likely more fluent in than you are. If they aren’t, there are plenty of good reasons to get them into it, none-the-least that tech is one of the fastest growing sectors and a key employer of the future. What’s more, Business Insider claims that several well-paying jobs in tech are primed to expand dramatically in the next decade.

In New Zealand, www.careers.gov.nz suggests that occupations such as web developer, social media manager, 3-D animator, sustainability manager, carbon emissions trader and mobile phone applications developer are the jobs of the future, and that New Zealand’s fastest growing export sector is information technology. Biotechnology is also a key emerging industry.

That makes science and information technology super important for kids’ education today according to New Zealand Education Institute executive member and May Road School principal Lynda Stuart.

“The world that our children are going to be in is a different world to the world that we have known. Science and technology needs to be an integral part of the day-to-day teaching and learning programme.”

Lynda said that New Zealand schools were on track with science and IT curriculum. Kids started with iPAD-based learning from new entrant age, and May Road had four fully integrated digital immersion classrooms. The thought behind that was to prepare kids for a digital world not only in terms of technology skills, but in creative problem solving, being risk takers and being able to work collaboratively. “That’s what employers are telling us that they want.”

Getting girls on board

What employers also want is women in tech and IT. They’ve long been the primary domain of males, but that’s something that Girl Code is trying to change.

Girl Code runs coding courses for girls in schools and as evening courses. Girl Code co-founder Alice Gatland says that women are underrepresented in the IT sector, to the detriment of innovation.

“If you want to have good problem solving, we need a diverse workforce for a diverse series of thought. If we want good technology solutions for women, we need women to work on them.”
Part of that is breaking the mentality of IT as an isolationist career.

“It all comes down to how it is portrayed,” said Gatland. “We focus on the more collaborative aspects; it’s helping people, you don’t do it alone, you work in teams. It’s creative.”

Gatland said that coding was a core literacy in today’s world, and important for kids to know whether they go into an IT career or not; in the workforce they will be working with techies, and it’s helpful to speak their language. But given the opportunities to travel, work great hours and earn a high-paying wage, it was a career well worth considering.

Girl Code has recently received additional government funding to roll out their programme in more schools. Gatland said it often made sense to run IT training outside of the regular school structure.

“Teachers find it really difficult because technology changes frequently but it’s difficult to change a curriculum to keep up with it. In saying that though, some schools are doing some really, really amazing programmes – things like robotics and other projects. If you do have one keen teacher, that’s all it takes.”

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