“There are no great limits on growth, because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder” – Ronald Reagan
It’s British Science Week, and time to celebrate everything the wonderful world of STEM has created. The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics have always been vitally important to the world around us – from the discovery and development of vaccines to the building of boats, bridges and batteries – but it could be argued that its importance is growing.
In a modern world, the STEM fields have converged to create industries like software engineering, for example, where skills from all four disciplines come into play. Software Engineers play a huge part in our everyday lives, from doing our grocery shopping to tracking our health and activity, and STEM underpins it all.
This year’s British Science Week theme is growth. We’ve written in the past about how people can divert their career paths to enter the software engineering industry, but there is cause for conversation around how to grow and nurture a software career from the outset. Children as young as six years old are learning to code in British schools, so interest in the industry is now being picked up at a very early age.
But how does primary education translate into a career in software engineering? What does that pathway look like? And what does that mean for the future of the industry?
“Play is the shortest route between children and their creative calling” – Vince Gowmon
Six-year-olds coding may sound a bit extreme, but it’s far from it. They’re not sat at a computer building apps and websites – it’s a playful environment that sees them program robots and build games.
By engaging with children as early as possible, and in a playful environment, a fire is sparked and an interest is developed. Whether they continue down the path of a Software Engineer or opt to head in a different direction, the technical, analytics and practical skills picked up by coding will be transferrable and invaluable.
It doesn’t stop there
“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live” – Mortimer Adler
Following primary education, learning to code doesn’t stop aged 11. In secondary school, coding continues with the addition of a second programming language and the understanding of simple Boolean logic.
That is just curriculum-based learning too – more and more schools are offering extra-curricular clubs and activities. Exam boards are also offering additional qualifications in computer science at GSCE and A-Level. Primary education is just the beginning, and it opens a world of possibilities.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it” – Julia Child
Primary education will also help us balance the books on diversity in the tech sector. In the indiscriminate setting of the primary school classroom, giving all children the opportunity to try their hand at coding means that people of different genders, ethnicities, abilities and backgrounds all have the same introduction to the industry.
Only 14 per cent of software engineering roles in the UK are held by women, but that’s an issue that isn’t going to be solved by the next cohort of graduates with little more than a third of further education STEM students identifying as female. Although it is going to take some years to shift the gender imbalance, the introduction of software engineering at the very base of the educational pyramid will play a key role in doing so.
Coding for tomorrow
Software engineering is at the heart of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. The technological changes happening across the world, in every aspect of our lives, are being created by software engineers. With children engaging with the creation of software much earlier in their lives, growing alongside it and their lives being fully immersed in it, who knows what the future holds?
develop is at the heart of the Software Engineering industry and specialises in placing talented candidates in roles across the UK, Germany and Miami. For more information, get in touch.