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Computing and the workforce of the future

In this interview, Tim Whitley of BT talks about how the new curriculum prepares the workforce of the future.
So the UK has had a really profound role in terms of technology development, generally, and computing specifically. BT is the oldest telecommunications company in the world. We trace our lineage back to 1837, pioneering work around the electric telegraph. Roll down the years, there have been many, many technological breakthroughs. If we end up in the Second World War, of course we find Turing working at Bletchley Park, effectively inventing the modern computer. And we find another BT character, this time called Tommy Flowers, realising and building the great ideas that Turing had– so a real history of British innovation and pleasingly, BT in there down the years as well.
Everything you think about doing in your daily life at some point is mediated, carried over this stuff. This is single mode optical fibre, technology pioneered by BT Labs during the ’80s and ’90s. The information is connected globally over these hair-thin strands of glass. Everything we do in some way is touched by network, and that’s just today. If we look going forward, there’s a projection that there will be 50 billion devices connected by 2030. That’s far more devices connected than there are humans in the world. The software that drives these systems is therefore also intrinsic to the way we lead our lives today. It’s about applying technology, harvesting information, and delivering insights that useful to humans.
That is all powered by software. So as I look forward and I think about the sort of young people we’re going to need in the next few years, people who are conversant with computing, conversant with software, and really understand how the world of tomorrow works are going to be vital. So myself and BT are delighted about the new computing curriculum, because it establishes computing, comp science right up there alongside the other STEM subjects– physics, chemistry, maths, et cetera. I think that sends a really important message. It’s a subject which is as core to the sort of skills that employers will need in the future as those other really important subjects.
Another element of the curriculum that we’re really keen on is digital citizenship. In an increasingly connected digital world where information is potentially spreading all over the place, I think it’s very important that right from the offset, children think beforehand about the way they interact and the data that they will be putting out online. On the curriculum itself, I’m also delighted that it covers the full age range and all children, all students will have some fun learning how to code, understanding computing, but importantly, I think they will also get an appreciation of the way in which computing is done– computational thinking algorithms, how you break down a problem, structure it, and then do something useful.
As we think about the future that will unfold over the next 10 years, a future driven by technology, driven by software, having an appreciation, even if you’re not a day to day coder, a really detailed appreciation of how that world works will be vital.

Teachers know that they are preparing the workforce of the future, but in this rapidly evolving technological world, how do they know they are preparing pupils effectively? In this interview Tim Whitley talks about the past, present and future of computing and how the new curriculum will support the innovators of the future.

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Teaching Computing

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