Schools must replace ICT lessons with business IT

An influential group of UK IT directors is calling on the government to replace ICT education with business-focused IT lessons

An influential group of UK IT directors is calling on the government to replace ICT education with "IT in business" lessons.

The Corporate IT Forum's Education and Skills Commission said it would be potentially harmful to the UK if the now defunct ICT curriculum is not replaced. 

Joanna Poplawska, spokesperson for the commission, said it is worried that the UK government lacks a grasp of business computing, and is more interested in creating the next Facebook or Google, leaving a huge gap in IT skills that can be applied in business.

“Over 50% of IT professionals work in end users organisations – IT does not necessarily mean working for Microsoft or Google," she said. "The use of computing devices and basic programming skills needs to be accommodated in education. But we also need experts who can apply IT to build and improve business.”

While schools teach basic business and economics, Poplawska would like to see these lessons correlated with IT to enable school children to grasp how IT drives business.

David Roberts, director at The Corporate IT Forum, said: “So much of a modern business depends on good IT but it is not being taught at schools.”

John Harris, chair of The Corporate IT Forum and chief architect and head of IT strategy at pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said: “Technology is such an important component of business competitiveness that the UK must be able to provide a workforce with in-depth knowledge of computer science and technical skills – both at a strategic management level and in the form of specialist technicians.  If we do not, businesses will locate their IT centres elsewhere, where they can get the staff and we will reduce the number of IT innovators and entrepreneurs produced in the UK.”

The Commission is also concerned that schools may provide virtually no ICT education at all for two school years, as the subject is made non-mandatory, leading to a shortage of IT-literate school-leavers.

Speaking at a recent Intellect event, Kevin McLaughlin, an ICT teacher, said: “Any IT curriculum should recognise all the great work that has been going on throughout schools in the UK, particularly among those innovative IT teachers who have been using things such as animation, blogging, film-making, podcasting, website-building even collaborating through social media and programming.

"So really an IT curriculum in the future has to build on what is already in place, use that as its foundation and ask innovative IT teachers in schools what they think the new curriculum should be."

Photo: Jetta Productions

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