By James Eiloart, Senior Vice President of EMEA, Tableau Software
While the government places digital skills at the core of its Industrial Strategy, a widening disconnect is emerging between the current educational system and the demands of the modern workplace.
Much is still being made of the need to increase the number of students pursuing STEM subjects such as maths and computer science. Each year, the UK is short of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and math’s (STEM) graduates, but the challenge of equipping young people to thrive in tomorrow’s digital economy goes far deeper than simply offering more courses in these subjects.
We should be broadening our definition of what “technical skills” means by looking at what is actually needed in the workforce and inserting those skills into the broader curriculum.
For example, skills like analytical reasoning, data science and business analysis are currently amongst the top 25 most in-demand skills for today’s workforce – these skills will be crucial for young people as they enter tomorrow’s workplace, whatever career path they choose. The ability to analyse and communicate back insights from data is emerging as a core competency every worker should possess.
Rather than hiving these skills off into a handful of subjects, we should lookholistically at how skills like data literacy can be embedded into teaching in the same way reading and writing are integral across all subjects today
The Royal Society’s Curriculum Review, published last year, makes a compelling case for incorporating data science into primary and secondary education across a broad range of data rich subjects such as history and geography.
At Tableau, we are working with 72 universities across the UK to integrate data literacy skills into teaching across a broad swathe of university study programmes, from the London School of Economics with its nearly 3000 undergraduate students using Tableau as part of a flagship interdisciplinary programme called LSE100, through to the University of Oxford who have embedded data skills training into their International Development course.
We would welcome a dialogue between business and government to explore how a similar approach might be replicated in secondary school education.
The future of business depends upon new education methods and the time is now to work together to put ideas into action.