An initiative announced by the White House on Saturday revealed some $4 billion in state funding – and a further $100 million in direct funding – will go towards teaching kids Computer Science (CS) at school. President Obama will use his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by funnelling resources into teacher training, access to technology and building effective regional partnerships.
The plan, which Mr Obama calls “Computer Science For All”, aims to reinvigorate public schools’ approaches to computer skills. In his State of the Union address, the president called for lasting changes in computer education: “…offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”
Now it seems he’s ready to deliver, with promises of more than $135 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Science Foundation to train school instructors. The president has called on governors, business leaders and city mayors to get involved alongside philanthropists, technology firms and creative media.
In a move intended to shore up the skills gap in the American labor force, the president referred to computing skills as the “economic and social imperative for the next generation”. The White House estimates currently only a quarter of US K-12 state schools offer computer science with coding and programming.
For Mr Obama, this is a serious issue. In his weekly address he said, “We live in a time of extraordinary change. New technology replaces any job where work can be automated. Workers need more skills to get ahead…The question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘How can we make sure everyone has a fair shot at success in this new economy?’”
It’s estimated last year almost 600,000 top paid tech jobs went unfilled in the United States. By 2018 it’s thought up to 51% of STEM (science, technology, engineering or maths-related) jobs will be in the field of computer science. The White House Blog points out 9 out of 10 parents surveyed say they want CS taught better at schools.