What is the surest path to getting a secure and top paying job after university? Computer science. Unfortunately, enrollment in computer science programs at colleges and universities remains low, as very few high school students make the choice to enter the field.
In 2013, graduates of the University of Windsor’s Computer Science program had a 100% job placement rate, but the school shared that still not enough students were entering the program. Director of Computer Science at University of Windsor says some of this low enrollment comes from government cutbacks that have been impacting high schools’ investments in their own technology labs. Across Canada, computer science is rarely taught before high school, and even in high school the programs are few in number, optional, or completely unavailable.
It’s not only universities that are demanding more youth with computer science skills. Companies are seeing shortages in the talent pool too. Just this past year, Google decided to do something about it. They invested over 1.5 million into Actua (a program designed to transform computer science learning for Canadian youth) to deliver more computer science programming for the next three years to over 100,000 school aged kids across Canada.
The root of the problem, which both companies and universities are seeing, is the lack of opportunities for kids in high school to learn computer science. Rather than wait for formal education to catch up to the demands of the market, we can invest in our youth’s education outside of school and help secure their future success.
While most independent programming schools focus on reeducating those already in the job market, some are now focusing on the youngest generation. This winter, BrainStation is offering an extensive weekend coding course for high school students. BrainStation Academy aims to close the critical gap between education and the job market. The course not only focuses on equipping high school aged students with skills in front end web development, but it also provides them with inspiration to pursue computer science; through guest speakers, technology office tours, and free coding weekends like Hack That Page on February 7, 2015.
High school is a critical time when students decide what path they want to take in their education and their careers. The earlier we invest in our youth (whether in computer science or other disciplines in STEM science, technology, engineering, math), the better the outcome for both the individual’s future job security and for the growth in Canada’s technology industry as a whole.
From online resources, afterschool programs or coding events, take time to engage youth in these opportunities. It may be a difficult job market for Canadian youth but one thing is certain; go full STEM ahead!