Bridging the digital skills gap: The importance of STEM in education

Jamie Lee Brett (The Prince’s Trust) and Spencer Ayres (Freeformers Ltd)


  1. The digital skills gap
  2. Preparation for the digital economy
  3. Future of employment

The Digital Skills Gap Is it a problem? It’s definitely a problem from the industry side of things. Richard Gerver said yesterday, ‘Programmers are 10 a penny’. However, this is not the case. Lots of businesses do struggle to find high quality programmers.

The danger of code academy and the focus on coding in schools is that people learn coding skills in a specific, walled environment (classroom, online learning course). However, in the work place these skills can become lost in transference. Pupils will need opportunities to apply their skills and understand the real world application of these skills in industry.

STEM, STEAM, STEAMED…whatever the term, whatever the subjects you consider to be within them, the most important part of this area is defining a problem and articulating a problem before designing a solution.

Developing entrepreneurial mindsets in young people is crucial.

Preparation for the digital economy Businesses who haven’t embraced entrepreneurialism and technology in their industry have disappeared. Yesterday, Sir Ken Robinson mentioned Kodak and today companies like Woolworths and HMV have been noted. Businesses of the future require employees who are digitally capable. If they don’t have the workforce to solve the problem of digital, they won’t survive.

The problem with online learning is that there is no current way of formally tracking it. MindField is a potential answer to this (Spencer Ayres is developing).

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds need to be given the opportunity to do something different and something special. Jamie Lee Brett exposed his personal educational experience and told his story of how he overcame many obstacles by solving a range of problems in his own way to find great success. This highlights how young people can become disenfranchised with their learning, which can restrict their possibilities.

Future of employment The Channel 4 drama ‘Humans‘ portrays a possible future full of ‘Synths’: human looking devices that begin to take the jobs of humans. Yesterday, Sir Ken Robinson touched on the potential of future technology in becoming ‘at one’ with humans. Again, this talk highlighted the need for us to truly begin to comprehend and realise that employment in the future will look completely different.

Young people need to see ‘big picture’ jobs. Barriers need to be removed such as the need to be ‘realistic’ in considering what jobs young people want. It is worrying that we can put caps on young people’s ambitions by pushing them to be more ‘realistic’ when they define what they want to be.

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