Adland Must Help Tell School Kids -- Code Or Get Coded

The digital skills gap is the kind of issue that keeps many an adland exec awake at night. Firms will pay huge salaries to attract the right talent, and given that such people are in short supply, it's not too long before someone else is luring key appointees away with a more lucrative offer. This is a recurring nightmare for many of the people I know in digital marketing.

So it will come as little relief to London shops that the media industry body that promotes digital skills in the UK, BIMA, is reporting that coding skills are pretty patchy across the UK. While in London around two in three schoolchildren are reporting they learn coding at school, that number can drop as low as one in five or one in three in other parts of the country.

I was looking into this the other day and it's quite a surprise to see that skills that can lead to an IT contractor earning an average of GBP93,000 per year are not more readily taught. There are some estimates that suggest around 800,000 jobs will go unfilled across the EU due to the digital skills gap. 

What's more, between 400m and 800m jobs are expected to be lost to automation and robots by 2030, according to McKinsey. You would think that these stark numbers would make more people more readily accept the mantra that, as the experts say, you can learn to code or get coded.

The UK is actually one of the better countries in the EU for bringing in some elements of coding into the curriculum at primary and secondary school. However, BIMA is suggesting that the movement is not evenly spread across the UK and far more needs to be done.

A good starting point, I would suggest, is not only school pupils but girls in particular. It's quite a shocking statistic that currently only around 17% of IT jobs are filled by women. The Women in IT group, which has been set up to improve on this, believe it is because computer careers are all too often seen as jobs for boys and geeks, not girls. 

This has to change, surely. I have interviewed plenty of female IT execs who are out there taking the message to schoolchildren that these skills aren't restricted to boys, they're there for anyone to learn. They also don't have to be about being a so-called "code monkey." Tomorrow's coders will be working on amazing projects to not only help companies market themselves but to build renewable energy solutions, get autonomous cars on the road and send flying taxis on their way. 

On November 13th, BIMA will mark its sixth annual Digital Day asking for companies to get far closer to local schools to enthuse pupils with the scope of IT opportunities that a career through coding can open up.

Any business that found the opening paragraph of this article rang a bell should seriously consider getting involved. There is only one way to solve the hiring crisis surrounding IT roles, and that is for more people to enter the workforce with the relevant skills.

More specifically, young girls need role models -- preferably women -- who can dispel any myths that digital skills are the preserve of boys. 

1 comment about "Adland Must Help Tell School Kids -- Code Or Get Coded".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, October 25, 2018 at 2:30 a.m.

    Nice piece Sean, and on-point per what education in general needs to do.  Seems rather ironic, the younger generations love playing video games and using other online tools...but a major portion don't like math or coding.  Sometimes the medicine that's good for you, is not appealing.

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