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Kids love their gadgets – but what about a career in tech?

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Today’s children will never know an analogue world. Theirs is smart, connected and filled with a constant stream of content. We’ve all seen evidence of this: siblings glued to separate iPads, perplexed toddlers swiping TVs and magazines like tablets and kids ordering toys from Alexa. But for all their love of it, would they consider a career in tech?

While there is something very funny about six-year olds ordering dolls houses and cookies unbeknownst to their parents, it speaks volumes about how naturally interacting with technology comes to the younger generation.

However, despite this adeptness, there is still a deficit of kids who see themselves with a future career in tech. The problem is that we adults are not equipping children with the right knowledge and tools to progress careers in technology. In fact, we rarely even encourage them to consider it as an option.

The recent announcement that more than half of England’s secondary schools did not offer GCSE computer science in 2015-16 combined with recent YouGov research revealing that two-thirds of teachers feel they cannot teach coding, despite it being added to the curriculum in 2014, compound this concern.

Although there have been significant changes to the curriculum that prioritise a greater focus on technology, there is far more that needs to be done. The teachers on the front line, facing classrooms of digitally hungry teens, are not equipped to teach the new qualifications and are even less able to give any valuable insights into what it’s like to have a career in tech. However, the responsibility to change this does not lie solely at their feet.

They may be prolific tech consumers with a range of devices at their fingertips, but the professional digital world still feels distant to children. To future-proof the empires they have worked so hard to build, technology bosses must shoulder some of the responsibility of ushering in the next generation.

The good news is there are many ways to do this, but the most effective route is to work directly with educational organisations at the coalface, helping to upskill teachers and inspire children. This could mean working directly with local secondary schools, or even better, getting involved with initiatives like BIMA’s Digital Day, which links industry professionals with schools and colleges across the UK to raise awareness of opportunities for young people.

When professionals from across the digital spectrum come together, the breadth of expertise that is available to students is vast. Not only can they give real-life insights into the variety of careers available and offer practical advice about how to get into the industry, they will also give them a taster of what the future could hold.

Inspiring through face-to-face contact and giving the students a chance to get some hands-on experience tackling challenges will help bring the realities of working in tech to life.

It’s also worth considering looking at starting the process even earlier than secondary school – the more we reach out to the younger generations, the less abstract technology will seem when they start making career-based decisions for themselves, such as picking subjects in secondary schools or getting their first part-time jobs.

Ultimately, while the direct education of future generations is the responsibility of parents, guardians and teachers, the tech community need to take their part seriously, making themselves accessible and available. It’s a much broader issue. Technology is a complex landscape that requires as much input from those in the know as possible.

This will help ensure that careers in tech are understood, considered a viable path into the working world. By collaborating and taking an active role in changing the way that tech is taught in schools and perceived as a career path, the tech community will help attract young talent and preserve the growth of the industry.

Robert Belgrave is CEO of cloud consultancy Wirehive and chair of BIMA South

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