High Schools putting kids off IT careers, deepening skills shortage
ACS Foundation queries whether IT as a career should even be taught
High School teaching of IT as a career actually puts kids off pursuing careers in the field, according to John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation Trust Fund (ACSF).
Ridge says general computer literacy courses in early high school are important and welcome, as employers expect some level of skill with productivity applications when hiring. But once kids start to study IT as a career, he says, they tend to abandon the idea of actually working in the industry.
The reason for the rebound, he says, is that too few teachers have the skills and passion to teach IT well. In New South Wales, Ridge said he feels 100 to 200 IT teachers do well … but with more than 1000 high schools in the State that’s not a great strike rate. Without proper resourcing and relevant curricula – the NSW Higher Schools Certificate’s Software Development and Design course is unchanged since 2009 – Ridge therefore wonders if it is even worth teaching IT as a career in schools.
Ridge also cited conversations with peers who feel University computer science curricula have changed little in decades.
The ACSF tries to step in where curriculum development fails, with its Work Integrated Learning scholarship scheme offering a way for recent graduates to bridge the worlds of University and work in a year-long program. But Ridge feels the Foundation can do only so much – it has placed 3850 students over ten years - and that unless schools and Universities improve Australia will struggle to meet the opportunity for growth in IT services, which he said will expand tenfold worldwide.
“Australia’s share of the IT services market has fallen as global demand has increased four-fold,” he told El Reg.
But Ridge also added that Schools and Universities can’t bring about change alone.
“There are lots of different groups who need to do this,” he said. “They should get together and there has to be a co-ordinated approach.” ®
Supply and Demand
There isn't a shortage of supply, there's a failure of demand to put it's money where it's mouth is.
What the bosses are complaining is that they don't like the standard of the monkeys they are getting for the peanuts they are paying.
All they need to do is raise the amount of money (pay, conditions, training etc) until smart students decide that IT is a worthwhile career rather than say, Law.
Or if they are complaining they can't get _anyone_ with the right skillset no matter what they pay, perhaps they should consider things like internal training, internships etc, rather than complaining that someone else isn't training their staff for free.
ICT teaches computer use, not industry skills
With the stuff they teach in schools these days it is like complaining that driver education does not encourage the right people to become diesel mechanics.
Look at the stuff they teach in most schools: a bit of word processing, spread sheeting, how to find stuff on Wikipedia then copy/paste etc.
That, and their proficiency in fiddling with the settings in their Facebook profile, is about the limit to their exposure. From that most kids, their parents and school system give career advice.
"Johnny, you're so good at making the computer do things. You are a computer whizz. You will do great at Computer Science."
No wonder computer science has one of the highest first year drop out and failure rates. The students have no way to measure their aptitude before starting at university.
Wrong - sillybus virtually unchanged since 1999
"The NSW Higher Schools Certificate’s Software Development and Design course is unchanged since 2009"
Wrong ! It is fundamentally unchanged since the initial 1999 release, all the 2009 revision did was remove a few of the most outdated learn to/learn about dot points and shuffle some others off into the course specification.
After working for some of Australia's largest IT shops as Programmer/Analyst/PM for over 25 years before deciding to become a teacher I weep when I read the syllabus...
At an inservice tackled one of the authors of the "revision" asking where the word database was (not mentioned once!) and why the core wasn't smaller (do you really need to know how to code a binary search these days?) and some options to allow us to strand and tailor the course to our students eg an option on databases, on web programming, on object oriented programming (OO is 2 dot points or about 1 periods worth !) , on apps programming , different development methodologies(currently 1 periods worth) - no the kids need to learn this themselves (with help from their teacher) when they do their major project.
Many of the older SDD teacher are ex maths & science teachers who fell into the job who were in the first iteration about 2 weeks ahead of their students are now comfortable with what they know.
The Board of Studies doesn't help when in the current rewrite of the IT (VET) syllabus to match the new ICA11 package they decided the 3 strand option instead of the 5 that most teachers wanted, and cut out he units that the kids would most interested in and added the really boring ones as compulsory.
It also doesn't help when my budget (less computers supplied by the dept & the departmental Microsoft & Adobe licences) is about $2 per student per year ! If I wanted to buy a single licence to allow the kids to build an app using dragonfire would take my half my budget (I have a licence paid for by me and only installed on 1 computer which they turns on )!