From the classroom to the office, today’s high school graduates are expected to have more digital skills than previous generations. Christopher Smith, Executive Director Business Technology Services, takes a look at where young people can learn the digital know-how needed for their future careers.
Much has been written about the importance of developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills amongst high school students. In a world that is increasingly digital and where even CFOs and CEOs need a basic understanding of cloud or cyber security, digital skills are becoming increasingly necessary.
Schools are adapting to this challenge but with 65 per cent of children expected to be doing work in the future that doesn’t yet exist,* this is an evolving task.
One way schools are tackling this issue is by bringing industry into the classroom through programs like the Australian Government’s P-TECH initiative. Telstra is a proud partner of this program and its goal to boost employment opportunities for high school students. As part of this program we have been working with McCarthy Catholic College in Western Sydney to contribute to the school’s technology curriculum and help students apply these lessons to real business scenarios.
Last week, some of our technology experts at Telstra visited McCarthy College to host a workshop on how technology could be used to ease traffic congestion around the school during peak periods.
The interactive session encouraged students to think about how traffic relates to the broader economy in terms of its impact on supply-chains, business costs and productivity.
Students explored ideas such as installing smart signals to maximise the movement of vehicles as well as the potential of evolving technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve traffic conditions through the provision of real-time data.
Experiences like this help students understand new technologies, develop their problem-solving skills and understand real-world applications.
But learning is an ongoing and immersive process, and beyond the classroom parents can encourage their kids to further develop these digital skills. Here are a few ideas on how this can be done.
1. Online tutorials
The web is a virtual goldmine of resources for high schoolers looking to advance their digital aptitudes. Websites like Codecademy and Code Wars make it possible to learn coding for free, while YouTube channels such as LearnCode.academy offer web-development focused videos and tutorials. Whether young people possess some existing knowledge or have never typed a line of code before, the possibilities to learn at any level are endless.
2. Coding camps
A more intensive type of digital learning on the rise is holiday coding camps. Already popular in the United States and Europe, these intensive courses teach young people web development and coding skills. For some, learning these skills ahead of others and connecting with like-minded peers, will open the door to new career possibilities and even start-up collaborations down the track.
Video games can develop young people’s spatial thinking, reasoning, memory and problem-solving skills. For example, virtual world game Minecraft goes beyond entertainment to provide a 3D graphical interface that can help young people understand the basics of programming and telling a computer what to do, while the popular app Angry Birds has now evolved to encompass basic coding principles.
Educational games are also playing a role in the classroom. Telstra Kids, in partnership with Technology Will Save Us, has released a Digital Explorer kit for high-schoolers which allows young people to learn 12 weeks of physical and digital making with the BBC micro:bit (a mini computer). The kit guides users through how to construct physical circuits as well as learn to code three different robots.
Looking for your next career step? See where a career at Telstra could take you.
* Reference: Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking-Penguin, 2011).