Put coding at the heart of the curriculum or risk missing out on growth, warns Catherine Stihler

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 10 October 2018 in News

Stihler, co-founder of the European Parliament’s All-Party Library Group, said “there is no reason Scotland can’t be at the forefront of the coding revolution”

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Scotland must place computer coding at the heart of its education curriculum or risk missing out on economic growth, Labour MEP Catherine Stihler has warned.

Stihler, co-founder of the European Parliament’s All-Party Library Group, said “there is no reason Scotland can’t be at the forefront of the coding revolution”, but warned that harnessing the opportunities brought by new technology will require a change in the way schools approach the topic.

Estimates suggest Scotland will require an additional 13,000 workers each year with data skills, with Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities recently launching a drive to train 100,000 Scots to help fill the gap.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice principal at the University of Edinburgh, said the scheme would extend to include schools, colleges and businesses so people have the opportunities to develop data skills across their life-course.

But with Scotland home to more than 100,000 digital tech economy jobs, Stihler called for schools to go further in training teachers in coding and encouraging more girls to learn technology skills.

She said: “Our world is moulded in code, and young people have an opportunity to bring ideas to life and build things that will bring joy to millions. But while technology is shaping our lives, we're letting a minority decide how we use it.

“There is no reason Scotland can’t be at the forefront of the coding revolution, just as the country is blazing a trail in the development of video games and financial technology.

“But to ensure we deliver economic growth, we need a workforce skilled in computer coding – and that starts in the classroom. If we fail to take action, we could miss out on that economic growth.

“A number of councils have already made coding part of the primary curriculum, but it needs to move up the agenda to become a priority. There are particular challenges around teacher training and gender imbalance, which much be urgently addressed.”

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