THE BLOG

Programming for Life

13/08/2014 15:38 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 10:59 BST

"... Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer... it teaches you how to think." - Steve Jobs, 1995

Steve Jobs pinpointed nearly 20 years ago an idea that leaders, companies and institutions around the world are discovering today - programming is a crucial life skill.

Computer science is one of the fastest growing fields, but its growth is outpacing the number of young people opting to study it. According to Code.org, by 2020 there will be 1,000,000 more computer science jobs than students, a disparity that has made teaching young people how to code a global imperative.

This movement has spread to England, which will become the first country in the world to introduce mandatory computer programming in primary and secondary schools as part of the national curriculum from September. Pupils as young as five will learn about programming principles, how to use algorithms and write code. This is an advancement that has been commended by educators and technology advocates throughout the country.

I am truly excited by the potential this has for the country's future. Britain has a proud history of excellence in computing - British programmer Alan Turing's work inspired today's modern computers and the World Wide Web was created by Englishman Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1991. Somewhere along the way though, we lost focus, our education system for the main part ignoring the explosion of computing and the internet. It's time to get back on track.

Coding is about so much more than helping children understand the technology they are using - it is about giving them skills for life. Coding improves problem solving and thinking skills, and will play a hugely important role in improving children's future employment prospects.

It's not just kids who need to develop their computing skills. Teachers also need to learn how to write code, and quickly. September's right around the corner and recent research we conducted shows that more than 130,000 primary school teachers don't feel confident enough to teach the new curriculum in the new school year.

To help teachers, we've developed Code for Life, a corporate social responsibility initiative, housing a range of materials that will support the delivery of the new computer science curriculum. At the heart is a web app called Rapid Router, a fun and engaging educational coding game developed by the software engineers behind Ocado.com for children to use at school and at home.

Computer programming is fast becoming the language of the world, equipping the children of today with essential skills. The opportunity is there to provide an entire generation with the skills to transform the world with technology - it's an incredibly exciting movement to be part of.