A panel of experts concluded that Manchester has a chance of gaining smart city status – a city boosted by the efficiencies of technology and data – if young people are taught the necessary skills at school age.
Liz Bohler, project manager at New Charter Housing Trust, explained: “It’s all very well that young people are using technology, but how many youngsters are actually going to be able to write new technology in the future? There’s a difference between being able to use a smart TV and a smartphone to being able to write code.
Lawrence Jones, CEO of cloud and colocation firm UKFast, has always promoted technology education in school and played an integral role in the pilot of the National IT Diploma.
Jones said: “There is such a growing reliance on technology and with an existing skills gap in the sector, it is essential that we start technology education early to ensure Manchester’s future as a smart city.”
Tom Cheesewright, technology consultant for technology firm Book of the Future, described the progress that the city is already making and how official educational routes are still lacking.
He said: “There are code clubs out there and the ambition was originally to have a quarter of primary schools in Manchester running code clubs. It’s now been bumped up to a half because they hit the quarter.
“These initiatives are outside of the curriculum, which is miles off the mark on this subject.”
Jones added: “This comes back to the question of whose responsibility is it to make this happen because ultimately the people who do the code clubs are people who work in software in businesses and want to give a bit of time.
“Businesses are the driving force and I do suspect that one the ways that this will gain real traction is entrepreneurs spotting where they can make a bit of money by doing some good.”
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