Microsoft, Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs

The single most important skill that people will need for tomorrow’s jobs is the ability to continually learn. Future jobs will require what Stanford professor Carol Dweck has called a “growth mindset” to engage in more complex problem-solving. Success will require strong communication, teamwork and presentation skills. People will need to be more globally aware as jobs will increasingly involve serving not just a community, but the world. Rapidly evolving technology impacting every sector means jobs of the future will require more digital skills, from basic computer literacy to advanced computer science. And emerging technologies and the jobs of the future will require more digital and computer skills.

Given these changing expectations, the skills young people need to learn before entering the workforce have also changed. Every young person needs to understand how computers work, how to navigate the internet, how to use productivity tools, and how to keep their computers secure. But they also need the opportunity to study computer science. Computer science teaches computational thinking, a different way to problem solve and a skill in high demand by employers. Together these skills enable access to higher paying jobs in faster-growing fields. Therefore, equitable access to rigorous and engaging computer science courses must be a top priority. If equitable access is left unaddressed, we will exclude entire populations from fully participating in this new world of work. The goal of equitable access should be computer science classrooms that are diverse across race, gender, disability and socioeconomic status.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, embed instruction in computational thinking into classes at every grade level, while others struggle to close the digital skills and computer science education gap. For example, the United States has made progress to ensure that all students can take at least one computer science class before graduating from high school, but thousands of students still do not have access. According to the College Board, last year only 4,810 of the 37,000 high schools in the United States offered the Advanced Placement computer science exam. with girls, minorities, and the economically disadvantaged least likely to have access.