It is apparent that new credentials are required for informed citizenship, economic participation, and social mobility in a society transformed by the Internet and technology. These ubiquitous forces have revolutionized how we conduct business, communicate with each other, organize our lives, order our food, plan our weddings, file our taxes, purchase our wardrobes, and much more. Technology is no longer important only to tech companies; it is shaping and disrupting every industry. It is becoming more and more evident that everyone needs a basic understanding of computer science (coding, the Internet, computers, etc). Many barriers, none with simple solutions, exist to achieving broad understanding and they have consequences if we do not resolve them.
Preparing the next generation
Computer science skills, and STEM more broadly, will be essential in our future economy. If we do not adapt our curricula to match this reality, the next generation will be ill-equipped to contribute as creators, consumers, and citizens. STEM employment is already growing faster than employment in other occupations.
Societal relevance should be enough evidence to require computer science education. If we need another, the field teaches the important skill of computational thinking, the process by which we formulate problems and brainstorm potential solutions solvable by a computer. It is a unique way to teach logic and critical thinking that can be fun, engaging, and collaborative with digital product solutions that students can enjoy. Few disciplines can provide such tangible accomplishment.
“Tomorrow’s workers are today’s learners”
America’s Strategy for STEM Education, 2018
re-skilling our existing workforce
Automation and digitization could disrupt as many as 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey report. We innovate and scale our innovations much faster than we are able to re-skill workers displaced by this progress. We must rethink how we can address this skill-gap and offer our solutions preemptively, before broad industry transformation. While the mission of How to Speak Tech is tech education broadly, the book most closely responds to the needs of individuals who and corporate re-training programs that require easy-to-digest explanations of Internet applications and other tech trends to stay competitive for their current or future roles.
closing the diversity gap
If we struggle to dismantle the barriers to tech education, the diversity problems in STEM will remain if not worsen. Women make up only 30% of the STEM workforce despite being 50% of the population. Racial and ethnic minorities are 11% of the STEM workforce but 27% of the population. STEM proficiency will shape economic mobility so we must invest in closing these diversity gaps. Solutions require much more than better tools, including inspiring role models, collaborative communities, supportive instruction, and employment pathways. When we succeed, we will enjoy better outcomes with greater equality.