Vince Bertram and Justina Nixon-Saintil: Computer Science Education Week Isn’t Enough (U.S. News & World Report)
John Foster Dulles, the U.S. secretary of state under President Dwight Eisenhower, is credited with observing that “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”
The Department of Labor recently reported 5.5 million job openings in the United States. For many industries, finding workers with the skills needed to fill open jobs is a challenge. This challenge is especially difficult in industries driven by technological innovation, where highly trained engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians and others are in short supply.
In fact, the U.S. economy itself is threatened when there aren’t enough qualified people to fill the huge and growing demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math – also known as STEM – fields.
At its core, the skills gap is the product of an education system that lacks the opportunities and tools to prepare young people for the jobs and careers of the future. Students, especially under-represented female and minority students, begin to make decisions about the subjects they like and feel confident about in elementary school, so it’s critical to encourage and inspire them to explore STEM subjects at an early age.
Tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries around the world are joining together now to celebrate Computer Science Education Week – Dec. 5-11 – by “trying an hour of code.” It’s a great jumping-off point into computer programming and an incredible motivator, but it’s just the beginning of what’s possible for students.