Friday, October 26, 2007

Computing Crisis

Westminster E- Forum Keynote Seminar
Is there a UK IT Skills Gap – Some headlines

I summarise not all but some of what was said today at the Westminster E-Forum
The main panic in the system is the declining numbers of school pupils and students picking computing as a subject to study at A Level or University. There are been dip in Scotland too and the future of computing in schools was the subject of a recent successful conference in Scotland. Well summarised here

Shots fired at computing being boring in schools and also professional pathways and working conditions in the IT industry that turn off graduates and especially women.
The main industry challenge identified were in up-skilling those in work especially managers to get organisations making more productive use of IT and for the us collectively make a careers in IT more attractive.

This gives flavour of day – summary of all presentations will be published at later date through Westminster Forums Website.

Bobby Elliott Qualifications Manager for Computing was down with me - we didn't learn a lot that we are not already discussing with industry in Scotland. He has been down for a few days with CEOP and CompTia and blogs about this here.

Tim Boswell MP and Karen Price E-Skills UK

In UK only 2% of potential pensioners are applying on-line for their pension
Car mechanics need basic IT Skills to service cars
Post Office recently computerized postal walks and rolling out IT system - postal workers are challenged by basic devices deployed.
New terminal at Heathrow will only work if 80% of travelers check in on-line
Small Business’ may have website but don’t have IT productivity skills to drive on business.

Workplaces are not yet technologically enabled and most senior managers are not able to drive the changes that are needed as they lack the technological knowledge even to procure system changes that are required.

Its about schools a bit but 70% of workforce for next twenty years is really the issue.
The workforce of the future is with us now.
Those in work need upskilled.5- 15 year olds either formally or informally have got it.

Anne De Roek Council of Professors and Head of Computing

2001-2006 has seen a 46% decline in those entering IT degrees yet 72% of all job vacancies currently are for IT related vacancies.

Peter Butler Head of Learning BT

BT transforming from engineering to software services company.
Increasingly offshoring work to get right skills and cost base.
In UK 4 million owner managers in SME sector who need better understanding of how IT can help their business.
21 million use IT daily, 9/10 vacancies require basic IT Skills yet hardly anyone as entrants or in existing workforce have had any formal training in using a computer.

Jacqeline Crowley Cappgemini

China will overtake UK in IT in next five years.
76% of UK companies are currently delaying IT projects as the IT Skills are not available
At least 50% of workforce cannot perform basic tasks on computer
But we need more than basics we need high level skills in Java , C++ etc
The USA have relaxed immigration laws to import these skill sets from the developing world. Next wave needs high-level project management skills combined with understanding of the application of IT to business processes – we can do it this – but development and basic programming is moving offshore.

Emily Taylor – Nominet

Offshoring is fact of life and is driving down costs and services up for UK customers and and for rest of developed world while provding jobs in new economies.. But we need to train young people not just to be consumers but creators in this new world.
IT knowledge among general and senior managers is very low and the real challenge to our productivity.

Philip Virgo EURIM Secretary General
30 years ago did huge study which showed best indicator of success in new computing industry was the ability to parse sentences and do basic mathematical functions. He is not convinced this has really changed – technology changes all the time but core competences for successful career in IT industry don’t change.

We should be looking at how we use social networks in range of subjects to get our young people used to working across cultural and linguistic barriers. Global supply chains need this and this is where work will be in future in all industries. Skill is not so much in the IT which will continually change as in how we choose to use it.

Latif Horst Cisco Public Sector Manager

80% of pupils play games and use web2 applications 78% of teachers don’t
Information is changing so rapidly that already three year degree graduates are finding first year and half obsolete on graduation. By 2010 unique technical information will be doubling every 72 hours and systems and software will change hourly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Portfolio Changes from Outside but we're winning

October has arrived and we are in the midst of finalising development plans for next year. HN Modernisation almost completed, new National Certificate Groups Awards under way, some more Skills for Work on horizon. Curriculum for Excellence and what happens to some Int1 and Int2 Courses still in the big policy mixing pot. Scottish Vocational Awards under spotlight through the Scottish Skills Strategy. Professional Development Awards and National Progression Awards providing smaller chunks of certificated learning are in demand across a number of sectors.

The Qualification teams are all involved in significant developments in our sector portfolios and as the thirst particularly in the post school sector continues for the Quality Assurance that SQA can bring to life long learning it looks like we will be busier than ever in the next financial year.

  • Good to get Motherwell College on board as Auto Desk lead centre and AdamSmith College on board as Adobe lead centre for DIVA . Glad too for the support of staff like Colin Maxwell who is one of two 'Adobe education leaders' in Scotland, and one of only 15 in the UK overall. The Adobe 'education leader' programme has run successfully in the US for some time and opened up to the rest of the world in 2005.
  • Great news too that Strathclyde Police have adopted the Internet Safety Unit as part of Police training programme.
I am off to Westminster tomorrow to hear I suspect that rest of UK should be doing what we have already done in Scottish Further Education around working with vendors and computing industry. We should really start exporting it south as well as to our overseas customers ;-)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Curriculum for Excellence

Attended an intriguing and challenging presentation from Brian Boyd on Tuesday night around some of the challenges emerging in considering the place of assessment in a curriculum for excellence.

Lots of the areas suggested as areas we could move towards are tools that we already employ in different sectors. I wish there was a greater awareness of the different kinds of assessment done in Colleges , workbased and adult learning. Brian was talking to the converted. The mind forged manicles that can exist in schools sector could be considered theirs to keep or cast off as they choose.

I hope we can in consultation find a way that frees up learning and assessment for the learners. There is some great initial research on comparative systems across the world on the sqa academy. Curriculum reform and how we assess learning is a very active global debate.

Lots of food for thought.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A busy four day week involved a presentation to the new Scottish Industry Alliance for Jobs being led by Learn Direct Scotland . It links well to all the vendor work we have done in last three years.
A day in London at QCA to find out about the new Qualifications and Credit Framework this is being rolled out in England , Wales and Northern Ireland. I am so glad we have the SCQF. Though I sometimes wonder if we realise how well off we are.

A day in Edinburgh for our monthly senior management team meeting and a Friday packed with meetings but culminating in a the SQA Star Awards - always humbling to see the talent that Scotland produces. Then into the car to catch up with the rest of the family at the Seamill Hydro - and the sun shone til late Sunday.

In between times I have been popping in and out of Second Life to see the presentations arriving from the Scottish Learning Festival. I even bumped into Ewan McIntosh's mum in the wee sma hours - having a look around. I guess second life is just as small as the first one.