Business Technology

Is the UK education system failing students with ambitions of careers in AI?

2 min read

06 August 2018

A tweet from a schoolboy has re-opened the debate about the quality of tech education in British schools.

Last Sunday evening 17-year-old Aron Chase tweeted Shane Legg, the co-founder of Artificial Intelligence firm DeepMind about how to build a career in the sector.

He wrote: ‘Hey Shane, I’m currently 17 from London, England and am very passionate about AI, also learning about in-depth human needs. What would be the 5 pieces of advice and tips you would give to a young person like me?’

Legg responded with some very well thought out advice. This included doing linear algebra well, calculus to an “OK level, not advanced stuff”, probability theory and stats to a good level, theoretical computer science basics and to code well in Python and be ok in C++.

Chase was thrilled by the reply telling the BBC that he would be acting on the advice. “Oh yes, for sure. I will definitely follow it and aim to learn of all of it by this time next year,” he said.

Putting a slight dampener on this feel-good story is Dominic Harvey, director at CWJobs who is concerned that Legg might be let down in his ambitions by the education system.

“Aron deserves recognition and applause for his initiative. The reality is that the skills Shane Legg lists as essential for AI are often overlooked in the UK education system,” he said.

“While maths and science rightly continue to be prioritised alongside reading and writing, more recognition needs to be given to IT and tech as a subject with the necessary investment made in teaching personnel.  Building our tech capability from the bottom up is vital in making sure the UK continues to advance in the sector and remains globally competitive.”

He added that tech should not be looked on as being a hobby but a vital part of our economy.

“Unless the government and educational institutions invest more in IT and tech, students like Aron may not be given the opportunities they deserve,” he said.