As the most recent GCSE and A-level results were announced at the end of August, there seemed to be a lot of hand-wringing in the media about the fall in the number of students studying French, German and Spanish and what that might mean for skills in the global business market. I couldn’t help but think about my own school days. Like me, you might remember hours spent learning verb tables and how to ask someone, in French, for two beers please. I never felt this would be much use in life (apart from the beer) and if I’m brutally honest, in business. I’ve forgot almost everything I learnt.
‘More investment in computer science and how we can encourage better uptake of these kinds of subjects should be central to any discussion around education, especially in a world where the global spoken business language is often English and innovations are written in code’
Trends such as the new multichannel, mobile and social digital landscape have driven the importance of apps and multimedia content as ways of engaging with customers across new channels. Creating and integrating these content formats with each other relies on knowing what is going on under the bonnet – being able to read and use the code. More investment in computer science and how we can encourage better uptake of these kinds of subjects should be central to any discussion around education, especially in a world where the global spoken business language is often English and innovations are written in code.
The cornerstone to competitiveness; meeting tomorrow’s skill demands
Global business today is driven by technology. More businesses are looking to business apps and the Internet of Things to unlock revenue streams and improve efficiency, while business leaders are exploring how they equip their future workforces with the skills and tools to build these applications.
Successive governments have indicated their desire to put the UK at the centre of the global tech economy. Various regions are trying to stimulate their own ‘Tech Hubs’ to make the most of this opportunity with Edinburgh the latest to follow Manchester, Birmingham and London to claim that status. For the success of the British economy, this is great news. Success, however, is ensuring a flow of talent to make these hubs worthwhile.
With Generation Z (currently 14-19 year olds) proclaimed the hyper tech-savvy generation and pioneers for the truly digital workforce it is worth taking an interest and investing in what they are learning now, so that they truly do have the predicted digital skills and output in the future. Teaching pupils’ skills in handling data, integrating it into applications and problem-solving is vital. Doing so will leave the next-generation better prepared, and our UK businesses at a distinct advantage.
The road to digital learning has been partially paved
There are already efforts to foster talent growth amongst pupils: the BBC recently launched the spiritual successor to the BBC Micro, the Micro:bit to help teach children to code. Likewise, the Raspberry Pi and software programmes such as Scratch are being used in classrooms to help teach pupils the programming basics. Even the likes of Barclays are getting in on the act with their ‘Digital Eagles’ programme.
Growing future digital skills, now
Foreign languages are important – this can’t be denied. However, there needs to be an all-round commitment to teaching skills that are ripe for use in today and tomorrow’s workplace rather than simply ticking a traditional box. Programming languages are the languages that will power the future enterprise. By providing students with the support and tools to learn how to code we’ll be creating a workforce that is fluent in business. That can only be a good thing.