Microsoft’s YouthSpark program recently held the #WeSpeakCode conference at the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS), offering students a glimpse into a future they are – knowingly or unknowingly – helping shape.
The Educator spoke to Sarah Vaughan, who is Microsoft’s director of developer evangelism and experience, who explained the role of coding in education and how Microsoft is helping students understand its potential.
“Students are hungry for it. We’ve just done research in the Asia-Pacific region which shows that 83% of students surveyed in Australia want to know more about coding,” Vaughan said.
“They want to have the opportunity to have a career where they use those kind of skills. Fifty per cent of jobs today require an understanding of coding. In 5-10 years that will be 77%.”
Keynote speakers at the conference included Minister for Communication, Malcolm Turnbull and Microsoft Australia’s managing director Pip Marlow, who highlighted the need for students to be inspired by how coding is shaping the world around us.
Turnbull said that students’ imaginations are going to create the world we live in, and encouraged schools to train students in coding so they can become proactive – rather than passive – users of technology.
“We need to expose more students to coding so they are inspired to create, build and develop new technologies rather than just being passive users of it,” said Turnbull.
Echoing Turnbull’s call to action, Marlow said that although coding enjoys immense interest among students, Australia is falling behind in meeting the demand for student interest in the skill.
“We have a problem in Australia around the uptake of coding amongst our young people which needs to be addressed now otherwise students could miss out on huge career opportunities,” Marlow said.
High school student, Ashley, explained how coding has inspired him – both in the classroom and in terms of what he hopes to do with his future.
“To me, coding is about taking our knowledge to the next level. It’s opened up a lot of doors. As a student I see coding as a tool that I can utilise my ideas with and effect change.”
For more information please visit Microsoft’s WeSpeakCode website here.