Firms join forces to bridge skills gap

The UK’€™s education and computing industries are combining to launch a new course to help bridge the UK’€™s technology skills gap

The collaborative scheme has received backing from some of the world’s biggest names in technology, including global computing giant Intel, and is tailored to meet the UK’s growing shortage of qualified computing teachers. 

The new Computing Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) programme, led by Hibernia College UK (HCUK) and The Tech Partnership, was recently launched in London at a lively roundtable discussion that brought together technology experts, teaching professionals and a representative from the Department for Education. 

The new SKE programme is designed to give existing teachers and trainee teachers the tools, knowledge and confidence to deliver the Government’s new computing curriculum. It is the first of its kind to launch with the UK’s technology industry, through the Tech Partnership, to accelerate the skills of the digital economy. 

Commenting on the new SKE programme Toby Adams, Coordinator of Learning and Head of Computer Sciences for Leigh UTC, said: “There is a clear need for programmes like this to address the skills shortage. Teachers involved will benefit from a range of activities to refine both their subject knowledge and their pedagogical application through tutored activities, reflection exercises and rich opportunities for networking with other teachers in a range of contexts.’

Bill How, Director of Learning and ITT at HCUK, said: “To start building the numbers of qualified computing specialist teachers we need, the Government should be training around 1,200 a year. Instead new trainees fell to just 350 last year. This is why we have teamed up with the Tech Partnership to produce the new SKE to improve standards of teaching in computing. Teachers need to feel confident they have the skills and qualifications to deliver the new computing curriculum, which currently many of them don’t have.” 

The new course, which has been in pilot stage since January 2014, comprises six key modules which explore modern technologies and education. These include inside the digital device, information science, cyber security and technology in business and society. It uses a wide range of training formats, including presentations, videos, podcasts and interactive documents, so that participants can move directly from enhanced knowledge to classroom practice, backed by the latest in industry standard educational materials.

Niel McLean, Head of Education at the Tech Partnership, said: “There is a growing skills gap in tech industry as employers struggle to find the skilled people they need to help their businesses grow. It is vital that there are more qualified computing teachers to help inspire the next generation of computing entrepreneurs. That’s why the Tech Partnership employers are working with HCUK to make sure the course content gives teachers the skills they need to deliver compelling computer lessons.”