Programming among the most desirable skills for future prospects, according to UK students

Programming among the most desirable skills for future prospects, according to UK students

A survey carried out across six European countries has revealed what children and parents think of the education system in their own respective countries. The results show that pupils are inspired by new technologies and want their learning to extend beyond the four walls of the classroom. There is also a desire to learn coding instead of maths and science which has the potential to create a generation of leading tech talent.

A new report shows that 35% of students in the UK would prefer to study coding over traditional subjects, as the UK education system has the potential to create a generation of tech talent. The GoStudent Future of Education Report 2023 found that children are increasingly interested in learning ‘non-traditional’ subjects, with technology-focused skills leading the way as the most appealing – half of all students want to learn video game programming and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Parents are also recognising the need for teaching technology-focused skills that will benefit their children in later life. Eighty-one percent of parents agree that technology development, such as AI or Virtual Reality (VR), should be taught in schools and 76% say coding should be a key feature on the curriculum, compared to only 69% of parents across Europe.

The data, gathered by online tutoring provider, GoStudent, surveyed over 6,000 parents, guardians and their children across six European countries – Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom – to find out what they think about the current education system and what they would like to change for the future. Technology came out as a top priority, from a skills and career perspective.

The findings highlight the need for investment to capitalise on the teaching and use of technology in UK classrooms. Despite the subject being a priority for students and parents, the study raises concerns whether investment in teacher resources, training and development has kept pace with fast-moving technology changes since the pandemic. Only half (52%) of students are confident in their teachers ability with tech in the classroom.

Greater support at home is also required, as less than a third (30%) of parents believe they are able to keep up with the latest technology and digital aspects of learning.

Felix Ohswald, CEO and Co-founder at GoStudent, said: “Gen Z and Gen Alpha are born digital natives, so it’s unsurprising to see that they have an inherent curiosity for technology and digital skills. They have grown up using gadgets and being exposed to the constant evolution of technology, so it’s natural that this interest would extend to the school environment.

“As educators and mentors, it’s essential that parents and teachers leverage children’s natural interest in technology to drive their educational and career success. As the world becomes increasingly digital, technological literacy is no longer optional – it’s a must-have skill that will enable our children to thrive in the future workforce.

“Our research has also shown that technology also plays a part in making children’s learning fun, interactive and allowing for creativity, so it’s undeniably something that we should be seeing more of at the core of school curriculums and children’s learning.”

A demand for schools to teach technology development and coding stands out for Spain (82%), while parents in Germany (66%) and in Austria (64%) are notably less keen for these tech-focused subjects to be taught in school.

In Spain, 46% of pupils would rather study coding or environmental topics than maths or science, followed by 39% in Austria, 38% in Germany and Italy and 35% in France and the UK.

Glen Harrington, International Software Sales Manager at SMART Technologies, said: “Coding comes with wondrous benefits for young minds, teaching skills that go far beyond a computer screen – from critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and persistence. When integrated into curriculums and taught properly, coding can be very engaging, but it can also be daunting for teachers who are not confident about the topic themselves.

“Thankfully, educators are not alone, and for those without backgrounds in coding, there are many helpful resources, websites and apps to make coding for kids fun, to hopefully jump-start a lifelong interest in coding and careers in STEM subjects.

“As the world evolves more and more into a digital-first future and the skills gap widens, we need to be preparing a generation of children with the competitive edge they need to enter a career in the tech sector which is desperately calling out for these skills. The key to instilling the right skills and filling this gap will be to develop a more mature IT syllabus from primary school age which integrates coding along with elements like design thinking into learning across all subject areas, and sets children up to be the future engineers, game developers and digital-first creative minds that society is calling out for.”

The report said that Gen Z and Alpha are excited by the opportunities they see within the Metaverse for the future of the classroom. Among those aware of it, four in five children are interested in seeing the Metaverse being applied for educational purposes, with two-thirds believing it will make education more fun. Over half (57%) feel that it will allow them to learn more effectively, due to interactive and experiential learning environments.

The report said that there is a strong need for both public and private institutions to focus on ensuring every teacher and child has access to all the training they need to get the best out of ever-advancing technologies. By supplementing in-classroom learning with VR, and daytime teaching with additional afternoon support, children will be fully empowered to embrace the world of tomorrow.

Forty-four percent of children imagine the classroom of 2050 will be improved by AI, because it enables them to learn at their own pace. However, the majority of children do not believe that offline learning methods and human teachers will disappear entirely, showing the importance children continue to put in establishing personal relationships. Still, more than one-third (39%) agree that most teaching will be done using interactive digital content and one-third (33%) do foresee avatar teachers conducting lessons in virtual reality classrooms.

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