Why coding should be compulsory for kids at school

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on June 1st, 2021

Why coding should be compulsory for kids at school

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on June 1, 2021

The digital landscape has changed beyond recognition in a year. Imagine how much it could change by the time our children grow up. Programming literacy is fast becoming as vital as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Aside from helping children build foundational skills, making coding compulsory in schools would level the playing field, allowing children from different backgrounds an equal shot at a career in tech. This would also be great news for the tech industry, which is struggling to improve diversity, in part because of a lack of diverse applicants.

A must-have

Programming is now a must-have in the jobs market, particularly the digital jobs market. While it might seem previous to worry about a seven-year-old’s career, teaching coding from junior-school age provides a massive boost to their prospects. Digital jobs earn a third more than the average wage in the UK.

The National Curriculum currently suggests – but doesn’t require – that school-leavers understand at least one coding language. Yet there’s a severe digital skills shortage in the UK. Only 48% of employers believe young workers have the digital skillset they need in today’s economy. And the number of students taking GCSEs in IT has plummeted by 40% since 2015.

Why programming is the new literacy

Programming is useful in almost every business setting. The ability to code opens up a huge range of well-paid career opportunities.

But as long as it isn’t on the national syllabus, the only children who get to seize those opportunities will be privileged children: those whose parents can afford to pay for extracurricular courses or private tuition. The only way we can create a diverse tech sector is by giving children early and equal access to programming.

Early childhood is actually the perfect time to start learning to code; children’s brains have incredible language-learning powers, and learning to code reinforces the core skills children need.

The creative and logical challenge of coding boosts problem-solving skills. The hands-on nature of the task, free from the red ticks and crosses that plague most school subjects, encourages independent thinking and the confidence to face and learn from failure. And the frustration and eventual triumph of fixing a buggy line of code builds resilience, drive and perseverance.

There’s all the difference in the world between growing up knowing how to use technology and growing up knowing how it works. Tomorrow’s digital natives need to make the shift from being passive consumers of online content to being active producers. Their world will be more automated than we can now imagine. If they don’t learn how to control technology, it will control them.

Conclusion

Coding is fun. It’s creative. It can be a social activity. Most kids would love the chance to learn. Making it part of the UK’s basic curriculum alongside maths, science and English will give them equal access to a resource they’ll benefit from for life – and that means the tech industry will benefit too.

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