29/11/2016 08:24 GMT | Updated 29/11/2017 05:12 GMT

Teachers Play A Starring Role In Giving Young People The Tools They Need To Shape Their Futures. But Today There Is A Challenge

The next generation are great tech consumers, but few are active creators. In a world where so much of our life and work depends on technology, that may be the difference between being left behind or getting ahead.

BT has made a long-term commitment to help build a culture of tech literacy in the UK, starting with the next generation. That's why we've focused our initial efforts on primary schools. It's here that children begin to form both a lasting picture of how they see the world, and their aspirations for the future. We believe that having an understanding of technology is fundamental in the early years, and is as important for young minds as reading and writing. That's why it's our ambition to make tech literacy a new cornerstone of modern education in primary schools.

Given the ubiquity of tech in our lives and work, it's vital that teachers can give their pupils a strong grounding in key computing concepts - this will allow young people to actively shape the world around them and fulfil their future potential. The Barefoot Computing Project supports primary teachers by delivering computational thinking resources and workshops for free across the UK. This is important, as just this year the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that 'these skills are increasingly needed across all sectors and service areas.' We couldn't agree more.

However, Go.On UK found that more than 12 million people don't have the right skills to prosper in the digital age, stifling social mobility. And the Science and Technology Committee calculated that we're missing out on £63bn of GDP per year due to the digital skills gap.

Today we've launched a new report which looks at what it will take to support more primary school teachers in the vital job of setting their pupils up for success in a digital world: through the Barefoot Computing Project and beyond. The findings give cause for optimism. Teachers believe tech literacy is vitally important to their pupils' futures, and they feel increasingly confident with what's required of them by the computing curriculum. However, there's more work to do - because many don't feel prepared to equip their pupils for a digital world, and can struggle with the computational thinking concepts that will underpin so much of young people's personal and working lives.

At BT, we're working to embed Tech Literacy across the education system. We're committed to taking the Barefoot Computing Project to even greater scale, because we know there are more schools to reach. And we're hearing from primary school teachers that they would like support to take this across more subjects in the curriculum, and to show children how technology is shaping the world around them. So we'll develop new partnerships to give teachers the real-world examples they say they need to bring this alive for kids in the classroom.

But we also want to take it beyond the classroom. We need to connect this to popular culture so young people can see how tech relates to things they love. We also know parents play a crucial part in nurturing their children's ambitions and attitudes. So it's vital we find new ways to help young people see how this is relevant to their future - because tech literacy isn't just a skill for work, it's about making the world work to your advantage.

Tech literacy is a challenge which matters to us all, and we'll only crack it by working together.

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