They are the people that make your ailing PC run properly and help you to set up your digital personal video recorder. They are the ones that advise you which smartphone to buy, and then help you set it up when it arrives. They are the techies in your life. Computer-savvy work colleagues and long-suffering spouses and siblings are our guardian geek angels, and they have a day all to themselves.
This year, National Techies Day took place on Oct 3. It first started with the help of tech publishing giant CNET in 1998 as a way to help teach high school students the importance of technology. Techies.com, the job search site behind the original idea, has ceased to be, but our techie community is stronger than ever.
Or is it? While most of us know a techie or two, the US isn’t producing them in high enough numbers. The OECD-sponsored Programme for International Student Assessment studies the performance of 15 year-olds across 35 OECD countries. US students placed 19th in science and 31st in mathematics. We could be doing better, and we must if we want the economy to grow.
Analyzing US Census Bureau data, the Pew Research Center found that employment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million in 2018, outpacing US job growth. The US will need more STEM talent in the next ten years, says the Education Commission of the States, a non-profit that advocates for education across all US states. Available STEM-related jobs will grow an average of 13% between 2017 and 2027, with the lion’s share of the growth (14%) happening in computing, it reports.
A focus on STEM, especially computing, may help to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. We are making progress, but must do more. Code.org, a computing industry initiative to teach children how to code, reports that only 15 states have adopted a policy to give all high-school students access to computer science courses, and only six of them give the access to all K-12 students.
Nevertheless, US schools are jumping on board. Gallup’s most recent (2016) report on computing education in schools found that 40% of K-12 principals had computer science classes, compared to 25% the year before. A group of non-profit educational groups have collaborated with states and school districts to create a K-12 computer science framework that formalizes definitions and teaching in computer science.
What can you do to support the young people in your life with techie potential? One idea is to talk to your local school’s teachers about teaching computer science or running a club. Code.org has resources to help. It also has a range of free online courses based around popular entertainment themes that will delight and engage children at home. Motivating young people to create with technology, rather than just consuming it, can help to create a strong community of smart, educated STEM-focused students to help celebrate each National Techie Day.
About the Author
Danny Bradbury has been writing about technology and business since 1989. His clients have included the Financial Times, the Guardian, and Canada's National Post.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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