Scotland must place computer coding at the heart of its education curriculum or risk missing out on economic growth, one of Scotland’s longest-serving parliamentarians has warned.
Catherine Stihler MEP, co-founder of the European Parliament’s All-Party Library Group, made the call as she hosted a ‘Generation Code’ event in Brussels to mark EU Code Week.
There are already more than 100,000 digital tech economy jobs in Scotland with around 11,000 new positions created every year.
But while digital skills have been introduced in the Scottish curriculum, experts have repeatedly warned that more action is needed to train teachers in coding and encourage more girls to learn technology skills. It is estimated that men currently make up 80 per cent of the sector.
Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland, said:
“Our world is moulded in code, and young people have an opportunity to bring ideas to life and build things that will bring joy to millions. But while technology is shaping our lives, we’re letting a minority decide how we use it.
“There is no reason Scotland can’t be at the forefront of the coding revolution, just as the country is blazing a trail in the development of video games and financial technology.
“But to ensure we deliver economic growth, we need a workforce skilled in computer coding – and that starts in the classroom. If we fail to take action, we could miss out on that economic growth.
“A number of councils have already made coding part of the primary curriculum, but it needs to move up the agenda to become a priority. There are particular challenges around teacher training and gender imbalance, which much be urgently addressed.”
Generation Code: Born at the Library – an interactive exhibition showcasing the top innovative digital exhibits from public libraries across the EU is at the European Parliament this week. http://meplibrarygroup.eu/index.php/generationcode-3/
EU Code Week is a grassroots initiative which aims to bring coding and digital literacy to everybody in a fun and engaging way: https://codeweek.eu/
Experts say action needs to be taken to ensure that there are enough teachers available to deliver essential technology lessons such as coding: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16030509.coding-is-the-new-alphabet-but-are-your-kids-prepared/
According to Tech Nation 2016, there are 101,397 digital tech economy jobs in Scotland, with figures from CodeClan suggesting 11,000 new positions are being created every year. Source: Scottish Labour’s industrial strategy for Scotland. https://secure.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/-/%282%29%20Images%202018/An%20Industrial%20Strategy%20for%20Scotland.pdf