Astronaut, police officer, TV personality, singer, doctor. These are just a few standard answers to the question, that every single person on Earth has been asked when they were little: what do you want to be when you grow up?
Educating children about career opportunities is never too early, yet very few people do it. The IT industry offers 100,000s of roles, which guarantee variety, great earning potential and most importantly a job for life. Yet, according to the European Commission, "there will be a deficit of over 900,000 trained IT staff in Europe by 2015" which will increase even further if children and young adults don't get into IT.
How would you get your kids interested in pursuing a life-long career in IT?
We rarely think about this, but...
Has anyone ever heard a child wanting to become a software developer for instance? Unlikely. (Okay, maybe Thomas Suarez.) But why is that? Kids love playing games and goofing around with fascinating apps on gadgets. Imagine how cool it’d be if they could create their own games. Not to mention, they’d be learning skills that would stand them in good stead for a high-earning career in IT.
The number of app developer courses and job opportunities are almost beyond imagination, yet interest is still relatively little. There are literally thousands of great IT apprenticeship opportunities for kids in the UK, many of which remain unfilled each year.
It's a win-win, if we do it right
It is obvious that we have to inspire and motivate more youngsters to pursue a career in IT, because it's for everyone's benefit. It'll benefit them, because they'll have challenging, well-paid jobs. It'll benefit technological development, because more committed and bright minds will be contributing to it.
And most importantly, it'll benefit the economy. By meeting the growing demand for qualified workers, the UK IT industry can continue to expand, delivering billions of pounds in future revenue.
How do we make it happen?
Will the new national curriculum encourage more youngsters to get into coding? Will roles in Big Data, cloud computing or IT security one day be more popular than singing contests, media studies or acting? If so, parents, teachers and organisations should all participate to make it happen.
How would you encourage your children to take on the 1,000s of opportunities in IT? What would be your way to make them interested? Share your thoughts with us in comments or tweets @BeAFirebrand using #getkidsintoIT