Coding: The New Panacea?

Posted in SSZ Briefings  ·  July 5th 2016

As many apprenticeships as university places
As we all know, youth unemployment is one of the great problems of our time; and not only in the UK.  At their conference, Labour offered their solution: as many apprenticeships as university places.  No doubt the other political parties will have their own suggestions.
Some have called for the reintroduction of National Service, which ended in 1960.  Others say that the National Citizen Service, still in its infancy, will offer a better alternative for today’s young people.  Others again, such as Ken Robinson, ask why our school system isn’t doing a better job inspiring and capturing the hearts and minds of our young people.

Coding: the new panacea?
So, here we are, already in October and into the second month of the new National Curriculum!  How are things settling down?  Is it better not to have to bother with Levels?  Or are you finding them being recreated, despite your best endeavours?
And then there’s the new computing curriculum with programming skills being introduced for all learners from the age of 5.  Will this plug the skills gap that employers have complained about for so long?  Is coding the new panacea?  Probably not; but it is likely to encourage more problem-solving and team work skills in our young people, and therefore make them more employable in the long-run.

Britain needs problem solvers
What we constantly hear from employers and what we read in every survey is that our young people need communication skills so they can be more customer-focused, and also team work and problem-solving skills.
This huge initiative to introduce coding into schools will help reinforce the UK’s tech pedigree.  But that is only half the benefit. Yes, of course, there’s a huge advantage in having a nation of tech-literate, coding-friendly young people ready to enter the workforce. But we also need new recruits who can solve the most significant business challenges, and this need is increasing at an exponential rate.

We’re excited!
However at Bright Futures we are even more excited when we come across people with an aptitude for creating imaginative and tangible solutions to real problems.  The intrigue of a challenge that needs solving, the pleasure of working with a team to identify the solution and the delight at realising you’ve found the best answer – these are all experiences that engage and motivate students.
Furthermore, there is also the chance here for the UK to raise its status on the world stage. The Guardian recently reported that “governments in countries like Japan and South Korea are monitoring the English changes carefully, with a view to following their lead if they succeed”.

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