Addressing Life Skills & Skill Shortages for the Digital World
Computers are now part of our everyday life and in fact for most of us, both at home and at work, technology is essential to our lives. The significance of this for our children is that they need to be taught the skill of ‘computational thinking’ in order to be able to participate effectively, not only in their educational settings and the workplace, but in all other activities touched by today’s digital age. The new national curriculum for computing in the UK addresses this need and has been developed to ensure that children are given the necessary foundation of skills, knowledge and understanding to equip them for life in the digital world.
As part of the curriculum, children are being encouraged to use technology to develop their ideas and being taught how to create a range of content using computers. However, they are also learning to understand how computers and computer systems work and even designing and building their own programs, rather than purely being taught computer literacy using software that will be heading for obsolescence before they’ve even finished learning how to use it! In fact, in September 2014, the UK became the guinea pig for the most ambitious attempt yet to get children coding, with coding lessons being given to children as young as five!
The idea behind teaching programming skills to children is a proactive attempt at providing a long-term solution to the skill shortage in IT related jobs. Microsoft, Google, BCS and its Computing at School working groups, and the Royal Academy of Engineering were all involved in the development of the new curriculum. Computing also has significant links with mathematics, science and design and technology, and helps children to gain insight into both natural and artificial systems. Computer and Internet safety is included in the curriculum at all levels, including how to report concerns about ‘content and contact’ online.
How can parents support their children in this important area of the national curriculum?
Showing an interest in what your children have done at school is the best support that you can offer them. Children will often want to demonstrate what they have learnt. This is easy when their learning can be demonstrated using a piece of paper and a pencil but less so when it involves technology. Just being interested and talking through what they have learnt will be hugely beneficial to them, but if you are able to provide them with supervised access to a computer or tablet then they can bring that learning to life with you at home, reinforcing all that they have learnt in school.
The BBC also offers a range of teaching resources across CBeebies, CBBC and Bitesize to get children interested in computing and so enhance their learning of the subject in school. Some of this resource is even aimed at pre-school children. 3-5 year olds clearly need to be taught to look after and respect the equipment, but beyond that, they will learn to use technology, without feeling as though they are being taught, in the same way that they learn through play – by watching, copying and experimenting.
In fact, it’s not just your child’s understanding of computer science that could benefit, having access to a computer or tablet at home will open doors to a range of reputable websites and apps (some free and some requiring a subscription) that have been designed to stimulate their interest and support their learning in all national curriculum subjects.
How can employers help parents to provide this support and in turn play their part in reducing the skill shortage for the IT related job of the future?
Simply talk to Lets’s Connect!
Let’s Connect is a leading employee benefits provider, offering a range of fully managed home technology and Smartphone schemes to medium and large organisations in the UK. We can give you the opportunity to offer a benefit to your employees that will give them the chance to provide their children with optimum support as they prepare for life in our increasingly digital world. Our Home Technology Scheme is a tax benefit scheme that enables you to offer your employees the latest, highly desirable home technology products from Apple, Samsung and HP, whilst allowing them to make savings using a convenient salary sacrifice benefits arrangement. The schemes are fully-managed by us, will be welcomed by your employees and won’t cost you a penny!
If you are interested in finding out more about the schemes we offer, take a look at our our Benefits Page or contact us on 0330 2000 231, we would be very happy to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have.