Goodbye reading, writing and arithmetic. Hello reading, writing and algorithms.
The British Columbia government has just announced groundbreaking plans to integrate computer coding into the school curriculum. Starting in kindergarten, children will learn the foundational skills to solve coding problems, while high school students will eventually be able to specialize in specific types of coding.
Behind the change is a push to capitalize on the province’s newest job wave: technology. The tech sector currently employs an estimated 86,000 people, more than forestry, mining and oil and gas together, according to the Globe and Mail. And tech is one of the few industries that’s rapidly expanding.
In fact, there’s a significant shortage of qualified job candidates. Vancouver companies are already forced to look outside the province for engineering talent. Across Canada, it’s expected that there will be a shortfall of 180,000 communications and technology workers by 2019.
B.C.’s new coding curriculum is intended to reverse that trend. Over the next three years, the curriculum will be introduced across all grades. Its centrepiece will be a new applied design, skills and technology program (ADST) focused on the problem-solving and creative-thinking skills essential in the tech world.
Starting in kindergarten, children will engage in strategic play to develop ADST skills. In middle school, they’ll learn the basics of how to code, as well as how to debug algorithms. In high school, students will be able to hone in on particular aspects of programming.
The new curriculum is part of a broader strategy to support the province’s burgeoning tech sector. Last month, the province unveiled a new $100-million venture capital fund designed to help tech businesses get off the ground. International tech successes already headquartered in Vancouver include social-media company Hootsuite and e-commerce giant BuildDirect, among others.
B.C. isn’t the first province to formally integrate computer coding into its school curriculum. Nova Scotia initiated its own program in 2015.