The importance of IT-skills in business is rapidly increasing. The most successful tech-startups in Sweden are creating tens of thousands of new jobs and have successfully put us on the global startup map. Today, programmer is the most common job in Stockholm and yet the market is screaming for more talent. But still, programming isn’t on the school curriculum at any age, I believe it should be there from first grade.
Sweden is eminently qualified for greatness in innovative technology, and it’s not just because of the bad weather. Creativity and new technology have always been powerful catalysts for growth and Sweden is the most creative country in the world according to the Global Creativity Index. We also have one of the best Internet infrastructures and the worlds 5:th highest Internet adoption. Lately we’ve also bred many of the worlds hottest game- and tech-startups valued at over $1 billion each, the so called “Unicorns”.
Change the school, change the future
If you really want healthy, longterm, financial growth in society, you need to start with the kids. It doesn’t have to be a reform, it doesn’t even have to cost anything. A school can buy new laptops for the same price as a handful of schoolbooks today. And a laptop could assist the students in every single field of study, just like it already assists us in every single office around the planet.
This doesn’t mean everyone should become a programmer, just like everyone won’t become a mathematician. But guess what’s a great real-world-application for all that math and physics they made you learn? – Programming software, games and virtual reality! Developing will also teach you how to best understand and structure all kinds of information and how to excel your creative problem-solving-skills.
Bridging gaps in both age and gender
Digital illiteracy is a growing and costly issue. Banks and governments are keeping expensive local offices open for a small group of non-digital citizens. An annual British study by Ofcom concluded last year that an average six-year-old now understands digital technology better than an average 45-49 year old adult. By making digital education more accessible earlier we can help certain demographics from falling hopelessly behind.
As the founder of a digital agency, I know the search for digital talent is tough. At Stormfors we strive for diversity in culture, ethnicity and gender. But finding girls as interested in technology as boys is extremely difficult. They are a small minority throughout the school system but highly appreciated as employees and colleagues. I believe this gap is largely due to gender stereotypes that a first grade coding class would quickly remedy.