Addressing the Demand for IT + CS
The Case for Change in K–12 Education
America’s unmet need for top talent in information technology (IT) and computer science (CS) is a longstanding problem. However, a new report from the IT + CS Business Advisory Council, Addressing America’s Growing Demand for IT and CS: The Case for Change in K–12 Education, identifies what businesses, education leaders and policymakers can do to address this skills gap.
The findings and recommendations in this report represent aggregated interview responses of IT + CS Business Advisory Council members and focus on five key issues:
- The relationship among IT and CS, and how that relationship affects hiring decisions.
- The authentication of technical skills.
- The authentication of soft skills.
- Missing skillsets in demand by companies.
- Alignment among industry and K-12 and postsecondary education.
Aggregated interview responses offer participating members an uninhibited response opportunity without jeopardizing their competitive positions.
About the Council
ExcelinEd and Code.org launched the IT + CS Business Advisory Council and invited businesses and organizations to collaborate on increasing opportunities for all students to learn IT and CS skills. While progress is being made to help students access these opportunities, inequities remain that prohibit many students from learning and experiencing IT and CS. These IT and CS skills are becoming ever more important in the workplace and in life.
The Relationship Between IT + CS
There is considerable confusion regarding the definitions of CS and IT. As a result, policymakers may create policy incentives that fail to match up with the problems they are trying to fix or fail to address both areas.
The important takeaway is the foundational nature of a comprehensive CS education for all students. This foundation will support students in most career paths, now and in the future. And when it comes to IT, this strong CS foundation is the best way to meet the current and future needs of specialized careers in information security, networking, software development and more.
Computer science, or CS, is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, hardware and software design, and impact on society. It is a foundational subject (like math or language arts) and educates students about the digital world. It provides the fundamental underpinnings for individuals to grow and amplify their digital skills into middle- and high-skill jobs.
Information technology, or IT, is a more specialized application of industry skills learned (like IT support) that can be strengthened by the foundational core that CS provides. Most jobs in career fields such as IT support do not require a college degree and are considered middle-skill jobs.
Employers and Education Are Disconnected
There remains an employer disconnect with education, which has consequences for student acquisition of in-demand technical and soft skills.
Computing Lacks Diversity
Despite significant effort and investments by companies to hire more individuals from populations typically underrepresented in computing, technology remains predominantly white and male.
Students Lack Access to Credentials & Skills That Matter
Too many students lack access to the skills, competencies and credentials that matter to employers.
All Students Need Digital Skills
The rising use of technology including automation and—in the future—artificial intelligence is changing the nature of work.
Pathways in Computer Science Are Not Well-Defined
Pathways in computer science that would help students learn to be digitally literate or prepare for a computer science career are ill-defined.
Students need expanded opportunities to learn IT and CS knowledge and skills that sequentially build to a level of mastery and prepare them for college, careers and life. However, IT and CS skill acquisition opportunities are limited in K–12 education.
- Just 35% of American high schools teach computer science.
- 32 states do not have K–12 computer science standards.
- Only 20 states have dedicated funding to K–12 computer science professional learning.
- Yet, 90% of parents want their children to study computer science.
The Council identifies four solutions that all stakeholders—including states and schools—can consider to expand and better align K-12 education to postsecondary and professional IT and CS opportunities.
What They Are Saying