UK Digital Skills Gap – some musings

That good old question has come up again – Are schools teaching the wrong things, as far as information technology is concerned?

Terry Freedman has written an article in his blog on this topic and concludes with some useful questions. I agree with him that schools should not be about providing “fodder for industry” and that we need to help young people realise their potential turning them into lifelong learners. This is easier if pupils are motivated because they are enjoying their learning or see a point to it. With the current economic situation it feels like the “point” might be difficult to see so motivation may need to come from elsewhere.

With both my offspring approaching the end of their university education it is interesting to reflect on their ICT experience, my daughter in particular has been taught to do bold, italic and underline in about 20 different Microsoft products – at least that is how it seems! I think she picked up the transferrable skills after the second product if not first.

I am much more excited about the potential that I see in schools now. Learning is more exciting and ICT is beginning to integrate properly across the curriculum. It seems to me that what is needed is for teachers to have more confidence – in themselves, in ICT and in their pupils. They don’t need to know all the answers or be able to solve all the problems – that is what pupils need to learn to do, along with accepting that they may have to wait until tomorrow to find the answer.

So the debate goes on, and will go on. There is a skills gap. There probably always will be. Schools can’t hope to teach specific skills that will be needed 5 or 10 years ahead when Microsoft haven’t written the software yet! But we can help our pupils improve their ability to learn, adapt, transfer skills, work together and cope with a rapidly changing world.

I was also interested in the question “How about retraining and recruiting people in the 50+ age group?” 😎

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