The number of young people choosing computing and ICT as a career has been declining for some time. Advanced level qualifications and GCSE results were out recently, and so you either agree that kids are getting smarter whilst standards are still maintained, or you don't. This coincides with the UK government's decision to cut funding for university places in England, plus a demographic surge in young people potentially able to enter universities, and a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen to the numerous graduates that have just left universities to enter the workplace to start jobs, or at least look for jobs. This should be a boom time for education, and an opportunity for computing and ICT courses to help address "skills shortages", even if the current finished products are going to find it harder to find job opportunities.
And then there is training which is quite different from education (quick analogy: training is about learning how to ride a bike, and education is learning about bikes in more depth, although the two are obviously linked) at a time when various schemes are trying to help people update or improve their skills, or to gain industry relevant and beneficial qualifications useful to the workplace. The OGC revisions to project management qualifications such as Prince 2 coming through at this time is purely coincidental, although perhaps fortuitous. This should be a boom time for training providers, although take-up and funding for that training may well be limited by recessionary influences and the varying views on economic recovery.
Therefore, this raises interesting questions for which this blogger has no definitive answers. Yes, we probably need to get more people and especially females into the world of ICT (see Big Ambition programme and some initiatives targeted at girls such as Computer Clubs 4 Girls) and more girls specifically into project management (see PM 4 Girls). Is this helping? Does a gender differential in our profession really matter?
We'd like to hear the views of boys and girls and their older counterparts about whether the profession is doing enough to renew and sustain itself, and what more can be done? It is evident from the Education and Training listings in Project Manager Today that there are now many more education courses on project management at various levels (e.g. school, college, university) than ever, and training products are certainly not lacking in their availability. Are our arguably smarter kids now smart enough to avail themselves of such opportunities, or is project management still something that they should fall into once they have tried something else? How many children out there say to their parents: "When I grow up I want to be a Project Manager"?