WISENET (Women in ICTs Shared Excellence Network) is the International Bureau’s convening platform that aims to leverage the experience, resources and connections of the international Information and Communications Technology (ICT) community to better the situation of women, their communities and their countries. As part of this work, the FCC has invited prominent women and men in technology from around the world to post blogs sharing their experiences.
It is ironic that in today’s digital economy it is becoming more and more difficult to attract and retain students in traditional ICT course studies. So, just as ICT skills are becoming a fundamental part of our economy, young people, especially young women, are shunning formal computer science studies in favor of what are perceived to be ‘sexier’ science subjects like forensics or genetics. A 2012 report by an industry group in Australia put the existing shortage of skilled ICT professionals in that country at approximately 8,500, while the European Commission has estimated that Europe will suffer a shortage of 700,000 ICT professionals by 2015.
So what is going on? Why has ICT lost its attraction for the generation of so-called digital natives, whose lives revolve around their smartphones, Facebook pages, and tweets?
Many studies have found that the ICT curriculum itself is one of the key reasons that students are no longer interested in a formal ICT education. The argument is that the curriculum has not kept pace with the skills and knowledge of the students, who tend to view keyboard based coding exercises with the same enthusiasm as a piano student views scales and arpeggios – necessary in the long-term perhaps, but in the short-term boring and repetitive.
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