In every state in Australia it is compulsory for students to be taught English throughout their entire schooling life and it is compulsory to be taught maths and science for the majority. But as we move towards a nation that wants to lead the world’s innovation agenda, is there another subject we should be pushing as compulsory?

Coding.

Almost everything we touch now uses some sort of software that has been coded by software engineers somewhere in the world. For jobs and the economy, software companies are becoming the backbone of many industries.

Six of the world’s ten most valuable companies are technology companies, with Apple leading the pack. They employ tens of thousands of staff across their home country, and in the US, are filling the economic hole being left by a dying manufacturing industry.

In Australia, as we look towards a similar future with the manufacturing industry coming to a halt, and mines closing across the country, we need to find new industries for young people to get into as they enter the workforce.

Being introduced to coding gives students an appreciation of what can be built with technology. We are surrounded by devices controlled by computers and understanding how they work, imagining new devices and services that can be done much better with the basic understanding of how coding works.

Of course, not everyone taught coding will become a coder or have a career in information technology. But having a general idea of how programs think and why computers do the things they do will become imperative as all workplaces move towards using computers and software for almost every facet of their business.

Students who learn to program early in life gain a deeper and more complete understanding of the logic and advanced thinking behind programming. Like learning a language early in life, learning and practicing this type of thinking early in development actually influences a child’s brain as it is still developing.

Estonia and the United Kingdom are the world leaders when it comes to introducing coding from a young age. Coding has been taught in Estonian schools since 2012, while it was introduced in the UK as part of its national curriculum in September 2014. Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece now also include coding in their school curricula. Important to take note of for Australia, is that Singapore, one of our economic challengers in the the global IT space is just about to introduce coding into its school curricula, too.

Again, as we move away from Australia’s traditional economic backbone, we look to a future with many IT jobs. The IT skills shortage in Australia is a bit of a contentious topic, but experts agree that there is definitely not enough of the nation’s best studying computer topics at university. It’s believed that a significant factor of this is there isn’t enough exposure to the subjects while kids are in school.

In the same way that science, maths and english has always been taught in schools, to give the basic knowledge, understanding and exposure to prepare students for life after school, learning coding in school does this for the 21st century. While computing languages will change over time, those fundamental basics and the introduction to coding will help kids be set up with the skills needed for the rest of their working life.

To assist with providing students with the equipment and resources to learn how to code, Broadband Solutions is offering grants of up to $18,000 to eligible schools. In addition to this, with the vision to shine a light on the importance of education and innovation, the Broadband Solutions Innovators of Tomorrow Scholarship has assisted with Victorian high school students who strive to make a positive difference through technology.

Last modified: October 5, 2016