Following the theme of my previous blog, I’ve been mining seams of statistics. There certainly seems to be a problem in recruiting suitable talent to work in the IT industry, the Office for National Statistics figures show current vacancies hovering around 26 to 30 thousand each month over the last two years. To put this into perspective, similar figures for Manufacturing as a whole are 30 to 40 thousand per month and Construction 10 to 14 thousand vacancies per month; these are so often mentioned as a key industries which are hoped to lead us out of the recession. No doubt the activity of all three industries is depressed at the moment, but whether the balance of recruitment between them will alter when happier times resume we can’t know: we can only shrug the shoulders and employ the maxim “we are where we are”, which is good enough reason for IT departments to step up to the plate.
Those in education and their parents need to be aware of the opportunities, but we also need, particularly in times of curricular flux, to focus on the nature of the vacancies since this may inflect on our planning and curricular design. Reports show the most commonly required technical skills to be in programing, SQL, C, C#, .NET and Java. No surprises here of course and no doubt driven by these statistics, programing formed a theme used by Mr. Gove in his address to BETT in January. Although it has been obvious that there is a good difference in market worth of skills between WP and programing, courses were pursued which failed to make the case; we should have pushed on in this direction before being told to do so. American reaction to our IT curriculum is astonishment that we allow people to pass through school without being exposed to programing “in a land which invented the computer”. The latter is nice of them. I had thought the accolades were more evenly distributed; of course, I’m suffering from post-Olympic good-will syndrome! I wonder why we have been so reticent; the notion of prizes for all, “just do the easy units” in modular courses have had their effect, but maybe as a team we lack the confidence. Perhaps we need to recognise something in ourselves, our reaction to a way of teaching where the outcome of a lesson is not easy to define. The idiom could be: “there are the mountains, I can show you the easy routes, but the difficult ones are for you alone”. Less comfortable? Not really, because this teaching is enabling rather than restrictive, surely we can all sign up to that.
As a final thought in this blog, have you had a look at the GCSE course development “Behind the Screen” showcased by e-skills (http://www.behindthescreen.org.uk/)? To judge from the variety of big name sponsors listed on their website such as Cisco, Deloitte, IBM, John Lewis, Microsoft, Blitz Games Studios this might result in a qualification to benefit the careers of those signed up to the course rather than the educators. I’ll keep you posted of developments.