The IT crowd
It might be the butt of ‘turn it off and turn it on again’ jokes and even have inspired its own sitcom, but being part of the IT crowd is nothing to be sniffed at.
For one thing, you’re more likely to be employed.
The knowledge economy of which we’re so often told, is lacking in a range of essential skills for further growth. Multinational (and indigenous) IT companies are happy to set up shop in Ireland but are forced to look abroad for the talent they require in order to grow.
While many schools are embracing interactive whiteboards and other such teaching aids, unfortunately it takes teachers – and parents – with a keen sense of purpose to make these advances voluntarily, and without much funding. The notion of having up to two hours per week devoted to religious studies in many schools when there is no formal teaching of any computer skills is archaic. The curriculum must catch up, and catch up fast.
What is heartening, though, is the level of awareness of this problem within industry, and what’s being done about it.
In fairness to the higher education sector, a new ICT conversion programme (available to explore on Bluebrick.ie) is, according to the Labour Senator Michael McCarthy, getting a “healthy” uptake. With 768 places available nationwide, 422 applications have been received. It’s not a huge number of places but it’s a start.
And locally, the ISA Skillnet, VMWare and Cork Institute of Technology have partnered on a new Cloud Careers programme for the unemployed. It might sound a bit fluffy, but the initiative provides training and work placement for the unemployed allowing them to enter a growth area in technology.
It’s a practical solution to unemployment, for a few people at least. The more people employed in IT the better for all the taxi drivers, restaurateurs, retail workers, and even journalists out there. Jobs beget jobs and high level jobs are even better – only people with discretionary income can keep the economy moving.
More encouraging still is a programme which originated with Corkman James Whelton. Coder Dojo has featured in the Cork Independent before, but has now expanded to the UK. Coder Dojo consists of weekend computer clubs where IT professionals give time voluntarily to teach youngsters with an aptitude how to code. It makes it fun and it’s wonderful to see.
The kids doing Coder Dojo are not going to be ‘the new’ Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. That’s been done. They will work on projects that don’t exist yet, with technologies we can’t even begin to imagine.