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IBM calls for industry-wide support for computing teachers

IT businesses can help teachers impart the relevant skills they need in the workplace

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IBM has called on the whole of the IT industry to come together to provide support for computing teachers so that children leave school with the skills employers need.

"We need to build an industry-wide support forum [for computing teachers] so it [access to industry support] is no longer a postcode lottery," Mark Wakefield, manager of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM UK, told the Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar in London today.

For example, IBM is planning to set up a summer school for teachers to help them prepare for the new computing curriculum coming into effect in September.

The new curriculum will have a greater focus on programming and using IT to solve problems. Wakefield believes that IT firms have a part to play by helping to make the curriculum relevant to the real, business world.

"I think this is a five or 10-year journey. It's not going to be perfect all on day one. We need to think about how we contextualise IT better. What does it mean in the real world?" said Wakefield.

Industry can also help make sure that "everyone understands the relevance of IT," he added, pointing out that the curriculum does not intend to make programmers of all young people.

"[At IBM] we take anyone with a 2:1 in any degree discipline provided they can demonstrate all those soft skills, like team working and collaboration. Most of our jobs are non-technical in IBM. About a fifth of our workforce have a technical background," Wakefield said.

At a recent roundtable discussion on the new computing curriculum, it emerged that employers are struggling to find new recruits with the skills they need because they are not being vocal enough about what they are looking for in the next generation of workers.

IT employers were encouraged to form closer links with schools and tell them what they want from the young people when they enter the workforce.


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