Friday, March 15, 2013

Google Calls For Education Reforms

by Miles Godfrey and Staff Reporter, 21st Century News:

2007 Google Developer Day in Australia: Alan N...
Alan Noble, Engineering Director for Google Australia and New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Google is calling for major Australian educational reforms, warning that the economy will suffer unless more computer science graduates and digital entrepreneurs are produced.

The US-based tech giant wants far greater emphasis on computing and engineering subjects in order to grow the local digital sector, which it believes will be crucial to the nation’s fortunes once the mining boom ends.

“This is an opportunity for the country, this is an opportunity for our kids, this is an opportunity for our economy,” Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble said on Wednesday.

“If we don’t do it, yes, we’re going to be hosed because we can’t continue to rely on the same old industries.”

One of Australia’s leading educators Jamie McIntyre, also says that a modern day 21st Century Education should incorporate the importance of computing in order to grow the digital sector, which is an important part of the 21st century.

Mr McIntyre, the author of What I Didn’t Learn at School but Wish I had believes that it is the new skillset for the 21st Century and offers lucrative careers for the young. He goes on to say:

“Computer/digital skills, combined with entrepreneurial skills, financials skills and emotional intelligence skills would make an education system one that not only empowers teenagers at school but also prepares them for a fast changing world”.

The call comes a fortnight after Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey appeared in a video promoting the learning of computer coding in US schools.

Mr Noble said Australia must foster a similar awareness about the importance of tech subjects. He also called for better investor and financial support for tech start-ups and wider awareness of the possibilities within the sector.

The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day summit, convened by Google in Sydney, with 50 industry identities invited to discuss ways of making digital start-ups a national priority.

Matt Barrie, CEO of Sydney-based outsourcing firm, accused Australians of being complacent about the technology industry and agreed education reform was needed.

“We are just so complacent about building up these industries - one hundred per cent asleep at the wheel,” Mr Barrie said.

“We don’t do anything about our school curriculum, while countries like the UK and Estonia are teaching their kids from primary school computer science, we are stuck with a backwards, antiquated system of education.”

Mr Barrie pointed to the rapid growth of Facebook and said Australians have the potential to develop similarly successful tech businesses, boosting both personal and national wealth.

Michael Fox, co-CEO and co-founder of internet retail firm Shoes of Prey, agreed that there is a shortage of tech skills in Australia.

“The traditional thought (of parents) is `I want my son or my daughter to be a doctor or lawyer because there’s going to be lots of jobs in those industries’,” he said.

“But if you come out as a really good graduate in computer science, we’ll hunt you down to give you a job, pay you a small fortune and we’ll provide you with an office environment that’s way better than working as a doctor or lawyer.”
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