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Guest Blog: It’s time to debug the education system

Enrique Comba Riepenhausen, teacher at Makers Academy, which runs 12-week web development courses, looks at why the education system is failing to fix the severe skills gap in the IT sector.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Enrique Comba Riepenhausen

Since the education system was created during the industrial revolution, it hasn’t changed much due to the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude.

The problem is, society’s requirements of education have changed a great deal since the late 18th century, but the school system doesn’t reflect this. Rather than hard work and obedience being the most valued qualities of a workforce as they were back then, I believe attributes such as creativity and independent problem solving are far more valuable in today’s working environment.

This is certainly the case in web development, which is a profession severely affected by the skills gap. The school system is not offering young people the opportunity to meet the demand for skills in this area due to the complex accreditation process that creates inflexible school curriculums.

This means that they cannot keep up with the pace of evolving technology and old tools, and methodology is taught that holds no value to employers at all.

The drawn-out accreditation process also causes the majority of IT courses to be focused on theory rather than practical skills, which means that computer science graduates are often not ready for entry level jobs. In areas like computer programming, many people such as myself have relied on self-teaching, which can be incredibly frustrating due to how inefficient the whole process is.

The lack of female interest in IT is another big problem that the education system needs to overcome if the skills gap is going to be properly addressed. It’s a well-known fact that IT has had an image problem for a number of years as being a male dominated, ‘nerdy’ line of work, but the vast range of IT roles that have been created by businesses in recent years means this stereotype no longer rings true. However, there are still too few women applying for IT jobs.

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Recent statistics show that women make up just over 14% of the computing industry, while only 9% of computer science students are female. Male-dominated classrooms that create less supportive environments for female students and a lack of role models areoften given as reasons behind these worrying figures.

Both education bodies and businesses should share the responsibility to break down some of these barriers and offer incentives such as female-only scholarships for women who want to become computer programmers.

Unless we act sooner rather than later, the growing chasm between the number of IT roles available and the people with the skills required to fill them will continue to widen, further hampering growth in these tough economic times.

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