There's no denying the explosion in digital technology. We have seen significant benefits from driver-less cars to surgeons performing operations on their patients using robotics from a different continent. Conversely, there are many parents concerned about the amount of screen time spent by their children gaming and/or on social media.
As a parent to an 10-year-old and a 6-year old, I can empathise with any parent worried about their child’s screen time. Yet, I also recognise that computer programmimg is revolutionising our lives.
So, what exactly is coding? Coding is a name used to describe the instructions given to a computer so that it understands. It's what makes it possible for any computer, piece of software, or app to work.
The UK Government have assessed the impact of an impending skills gap of an unskilled workforce, and this is affecting higher-paying sectors such as finance, IT, accounting and engineering. “We need action from businesses and government to reskill and upskill furloughed and prospective workers now more than ever, as the increasing skills gap in the workforce has the potential to slow the UK’s economic recovery” said Claire Warnes, head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK.
In response, the Government has committed to investing 2.4% of the GDP in UK research and development by 2027. As digital skills are near-universal requirement for today's economy. The UK needs 50,000 skilled people to meet that need.
We created our business First Class Coders, as we believe it is vitally important that children and young people are prepared to succeed in tomorrow's economy through an understanding and appreciation of STREAM (science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and math). We provide creative, unique, meaningful coding and digital literacy sessions for children typically age 5-11 years, to learn coding concepts and develop 21st century digital skills. We deliver weekly online and in-person classes, enrichment classes in schools and nurseries, and through private tuition.
The tech industry is predominantly white, male and has previously been very bad at welcoming people from outside that limited section of society. The shift has begun (slowly) but it is gaining momentum, as the UK government and industry realise that there is a systemic problem in attracting BAME groups and creating diversity into this field.
The barriers to entry are not dissimilar to other fields: a lack of opportunity to participate in expensive enrichment activities, either through a lack of access to costly equipment, lack of awareness of the possibilities for the future, parental desire to minimise screen time,
and a lack of representative role models. But these barriers differ greatly in that there is real momentum surrounding diversity and inclusiveness in Tech.
For parents, educators and those working in the community, this is an opportunity to really make an impactful change.
The only way to create products, services and information that is universally accessible and useful for its users is to ensure that those that create and make it are representative of the society it serves. The place to create a real systematic change is at grass roots levels to produce a pipeline of Black, Female and Diverse talents that grow through an introduction to computer science, its concepts and application at an early stage.
I believe we should reduce all opportunities for our kids to just be passive consumers of technology. At First Class Coders we use a mixture of plugged and unplugged play to engage the kids in coding and the potential of tech. By doing this at an early age we aim to reduce the development of stereotypes and give them the opportunity to see technology in a different way, potentially as a real career.
Whilst they are learning to code children can also learn important academic and social skills including critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communication. All the kids - and us grown-ups - need is the imagination and enthusiasm to start on this rewarding journey.
Find out more about us at www.firstclasscoders.co.uk