The world of computers offers plenty of opportunities to the next generation of hardware and software developers, as long as the children of today are taught the skills they need to become the computer programmers of tomorrow
Computers form such a part of the everyday life of most people in the world that it would be hard to imagine living without them now. This fact has been recognised by the government with its intention to introduce a new subject area into the school curriculum with a particular focus on computer science, so that the next generation of programmers will enter the workplace with plenty of skills at their fingertips.
How did this come about?
This change in educational thinking came about back in 2010, when the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, approached Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, two prominent figures in the gaming and movie effects world, and asked their opinion on which skills were needed to enter into both industries. Their answers formed the basis of the new computer-based curriculum subject and were backed by both Google and Microsoft.
So just what are the necessary skills for an up-and-coming computer programmer? What should young children be taught to ensure they are equipped with the right knowledge? The most basic skill children will require is knowing how to code. For many older generations, coding is a mystery, a foreign language or esoteric practice that is best left to people who understand it, but children will be learning how to understand algorithms and their place in coding. They will also be taught how to create basic computer programs and how to debug them to iron out any wrinkles. Finally, they will also know how to best use the technology they are creating to deal with digital content, which is the way the world is heading in terms of information and data. This involves knowing, amongst other things, how to create cloud systems to store information, as well as how to manipulate it and retrieve the data, and of course, social media networking. They will then move on to more complicated programming, such as the learning of multiple programming languages, and understanding binary numbers and Boolean logic.
Are the opportunities there for young people?
Thanks to the introduction of the new computer sciences subject to the curriculum, there are. People in the government have realised that for the UK to compete and succeed in the modern world, they need a workforce that is highly computer literate. The new subject, known as STEAM, for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, will hopefully achieve this. While some children will have little or no interest in becoming computer programmers, it is undeniable that many children will welcome the teaching of computer science and may be inspired to pursue it as a career. It is also likely that a university education, while desirable, will no longer be a prerequisite for a career in the computer sector, as many computer companies are beginning to offer apprenticeships so that youngsters can earn while they learn.
This does not mean that all children who show an aptitude for computer science are destined to become computer programmers. There are other career opportunities in the technology sector that utilise computer skills. These include being a technical support adviser manning a help desk, working as a technical engineer, becoming a system administrator, becoming a website designer, working as a graphic designer in the artistic or creative sector, or even becoming a security expert and helping to create and provide internet security for computer users.
Internet security is vital to every person who uses a computer, whether they are in business or not, and going into internet security will always seem to offer a safe job as the threats keep on evolving. Threats such as shell shock, also known as bashbug, allow a hacker to work remotely to access and damage digital files from anyone who is using a Unix or Linux-based system. Malware that is downloaded onto computer systems via emails and internet browsing without a user even being aware of its presence, works to corrupt and destroy, and even steal information.
As the technology gets smarter, so do the threats and it is essential that the internet security sector has new, skilled people available who understand technology and keep up with its evolution, and therefore will know how to combat the ever-more sophisticated threats against it.
The world of computers offers plenty of opportunities to the next generation of hardware and software developers, as long as the children of today are taught the skills they need to become the computer programmers of tomorrow.