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Make IT Better: BCS and E-skills advise government on IT education for GCSE students

04 Jan 2013

Skills groups and businesses are currently advising the government on the level of IT education GCSE pupils should receive in order to ensure the future workforce has sufficient technology knowledge.

The recently axed ICT curriculum had required GCSE pupils to continue to study IT to some depth, demanding that 14- to 16-year-olds be taught to design ICT systems and techniques to suit a range of needs, solve computer problems and automate systems.

V3 has learned that the revised ICT curriculum for GCSE students (the Key Stage 4 part of the curriculum) was discussed at a recent meeting involving the British Computer Society, the E-skills Council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

CA Technologies' Colin BannisterColin Bannister, an E-skills member and the chief technology officer for CA Technologies, said since the meeting group members had written to the minister of state for universities and science, David Willets, with a number of suggestions for Key Stage 4 pupils.

This follows a set of recommendations the BCS made to government in October 2012.

The BCS said that pupils who choose not to specialise in technology related GCSE qualifications, such as Computer Science, IT or Digital Media, should not be compelled to continue ICT study at GCSE level. Instead they should be allowed to focus on their core GCSE demands and IT education should be delivered to students in a cross-curricula way.

Bannister told V3 a number of major tech firms, including CA Technologies, are hoping to influence Key Stage 4 of the curriculum as much as possible in order to address the growing skills crises facing the IT industry.

"It's all about sustainability of the industry. There isn't a business that exists today that doesn't depend on technology and graduates just don't have the skills we need," said Bannister.

"I get frustrated about people complaining about skills coming out of university and then doing nothing about it."

"I don't think we should leave the government and education system on their own to do it. Employers have to get involved."

In Bannister's view, throughout school and university pupils should be taught less IT theory and more practical skills.

E-skills created an Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree five years ago with the help of a number of different tech firms. Now 60 employers actively support the degree, and regularly meet with the students.

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