CXO

Programming skills key for tech jobs, but only half of US high schools offer classes

By 2020, 77% of all jobs will require tech skills, but many K-12 schools lack classes in programming, robotics, app design, and data analytics, according to PwC.

By 2020, 77% of all jobs will require some degree of technological skills, but US K-12 schools are not adequately preparing students to fill future roles, according to a Wednesday study from PwC.

A survey of more than 2,000 K-12 educators found that the majority of teachers are not confident teaching higher-level technology skills, despite acknowledging the value for students in learning such skills. Only 17% of teachers said they felt an extremely or somewhat high confidence level to teach web design, 12% said so for robotics, 11% for data analytics, and 8% for computer programming.

Technology-related courses are also not offered in many high schools, though educators say these courses are beneficial, the report found. Many teachers reported that their schools do not offer courses in data analytics (80%), app design/creation (64%), computer programming languages (46%), robotics (42%), or web design/creation (41%).

SEE: IT Hiring Kit: Programmer (Tech Pro Research)

Some 64% of teachers surveyed said they felt that more emphasis should be placed on teaching technology, according to the report.

Students also do not spend time in school actively practicing higher-level tech skills, the report found. Teachers said about 60% of classroom technology use is passive, such as watching videos or reading websites, while only 32% is active, such as coding, producing videos, or performing data analysis.

While technology is still on the rise in schools, teachers said 50% of their students do not have access to the internet at home, the report found. This gap is even larger for students from underserved schools (69%).

A lack of technology education in K-12 schools has an impact on the job pipeline later on: Another PwC report found that 79% of US CEOs are concerned that a shortage of people with key tech skills could impair their companies' growth.

Company leaders who want to create a pipeline of qualified workers to fill future roles can consider becoming mentors for K-12 students, and creating internal training programs to improve employee skill sets.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Many US high schools do not offer courses in data analytics (80%), app design/creation (64%), computer programming languages (46%), robotics (42%), or web design/creation (41%). — PwC, 2018
  • Only 17% of teachers said they felt an extremely or somewhat high confidence level to teach web design, 12% said so for robotics, 11% for data analytics, and 8% for computer programming. — PwC, 2018

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Image: iStockphoto/Jean-philippe

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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