Numbers don’t lie

August 17th, 2017

At least once a week I am asked to share the Nextech story.  Whether I am sitting across from representatives from a community organization, a group of program participants or a potential investor, individuals want to know what Nextech does and why we do it.  The following is my standard response.

It’s no secret that there’s not enough qualified talent to fill all the tech jobs available today; that gap is projected to get bigger and bigger as the years come.  What’s often overlooked in the conversation though is the fact that there are a number of non-tech jobs where employees still need to be able to solve complex problems using critical thinking skills.  Individuals need to fully understand and be comfortable using technology to help solve these problems.  Unfortunately, students today don’t have access to the type of education and curriculum needed to develop these skills.  The result is students are falling behind.  The effects are not only felt in the classroom; employers are taking notice.  That’s why Nextech is on a journey to bring Computer Science education to every Indiana classroom.

Behind each element of this response is a data point that fuels the why of our what.

Projected Gap in Qualified Talent

Central Indiana will have 51,500 net new jobs in technical fields by 2025. Unfortunately, nearly 24,500 of these will go unfilled due to lack of qualified talent. (The Challenge Ahead: Developing Talent for 51,000 New Technical Jobs by 2025, Hire UP Indy)

Importance of Critical Thinking Skills in Non-Tech Jobs

By 2020, the top core work skills demand by employers will be:

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility

(The Future of Jobs, World Economic Forum, 2016)

Students Don’t Have Access to Curriculum

Less than 30% of Indiana high schools offered computer science courses in 2016-17 (Indiana DOE)

Students are Falling Behind

U.S. millineials ranked 19th out of 20 countries in their ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others, and perform practical tasks. (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013)

Employers are Taking Notice in Students Lack of Problem Solving Skills

60% of hiring managers feel new college graduates lack critical thinking / problem solving skills; 56% do not pay attention to detail. (Leveling Up: How to Win In the Skills Economy, PayScale, 2016)

If the words of our narrative aren’t convincing enough, no one can argue with the numbers.  Whichever evidence you embrace, we all must agree that every student, regardless of their aspirations are beyond high school, needs a foundational set of problem-solving, critical thinking skills. If we as a community organization, if we as educators don’t do everything in our power to give students access to the curriculum and the education to develop those skills, we are doing a disservice to them and to our broader community as a whole.

Karen

Nextech President

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