05/12/2012 07:58 GMT | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 GMT

The Youth of Today Need to Become Digitally Savvy to Get Ahead Tomorrow

The whole world is going online from accountants to your local pub, every company, shop, organisation and celebrity has an online presence and knowing how they work can only be an advantage.

There are, as we all know, few certainties in life. But one thing we can be sure of is the world's reliance on the digital and online world continuing to grow; especially with regards to SEO and coding. The world and its dog - literally, just look at YouTube - is going online; you can have video conversations with people thousands of miles away, you can order takeaway, watch films and connect with people in a way that didn't seem possible as recently as twenty years ago.

Despite this massive shift towards the digital world, an understanding of coding and SEO is conspicuous by its absence in the minds of the next generation (and this generation to be fair). Being digitally savvy is only going to become more important, that is beyond debate. Which begs the question, why aren't we giving young people the tools they are certain to need?

If you did a quick straw poll with say, 100 people aged between 16 and 24 it probably wouldn't surprise you to find out that 91 of them use at least one social network. It also wouldn't surprise you to know that these 91 people are also all very proficient with their networks. I bet they can all edit and tweak their profiles, add friends or follow people and contribute to communities or discussions. But I wonder how many could tell you what code that site was written in or indeed how to read or write that language? Not many. Or how many could give you a very general overview of how Google decides what ranks highest in search results? Once again the answer is not many.

Now you may be asking, so what a lot young people in the UK can barely spell and speak correctly never mind not knowing how to code a language that they may never use. Well in fifteen to twenty years these people will no longer be young, instead they will be living in an even faster paced world that relies even more upon the internet and technology. It is here that a basic understanding of coding and SEO will be essential, in the same way basic maths and science are essential now. We may not use it all the time but the ability to understand it is, and will be, very important. The whole world is going online from accountants to your local pub, every company, shop, organisation and celebrity has an online presence and knowing how they work can only be an advantage.

What is concerning about the the UK's current path is that, as is the case with most sports, despite being the home of the internet it is now playing catch up to the rest of the world. We still boast a fair few innovative and cutting edge technology companies but the pool of talent is not increasing at a quick enough rate to compete with other countries especially China, India and Brazil. One country that really stands out and provides the UK with an example of how to punch above its weight in the world of technology is Estonia. This tiny Baltic nation with a population of 1.2 million people has, since 1997, provided compulsory coding lessons for all schoolchildren from the age of 7 to 19. The programme, named Tiggrihupe, has helped to push Estonia's economic growth for the last fifteen years and made it punch far above its weight in the technology and IT sector. Surely something similar can be introduced into the UK's curriculum?

If it is so important, and has been done elsewhere, what is the Government doing about it I hear you ask? Well, in short, not much. Earlier this year the Education Secretary did seem to accept that a more robust ICT curriculum is required to ensure that young people acquired at least a basic understanding of coding. However, this has led to little real action despite the best efforts of campaigners such as Emma Mulqueeny.

It is absolutely vital that the Government takes a closer look at implementing changes to ensure that coding is regarded on the same level as learning a foreign language in British schools. If this country wants to continue as a nation with a respected quaternary sector in our economy then a re-evaluation of what young people do and don't need to know with regards to ICT has to take place. There is a chance to steal a march on the rest of the world but it must be seized by the Government, not just by pioneering individuals, and soon.