I was really pleased this week to be asked if Netalogue would participate in a local STEM event, not knowing what STEM was I did a quick Google and determined that Netalogue was actually able to add a lot of value to the event, an event to encourage secondary school pupils to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Probably not dissimilar to most professional IT companies we have typically recruited our team through the usual graduate trainee or professional recruitment channels but reflecting on this I realised that we had a growing number of key team members who had joined us after completing secondary school and not wishing to continue their education onto university.
Knowing how children now only really get excited by IT if it’s something to do with gaming I was somewhat intrigued to be stepping back inside the school environment with the aim of generating interest in “real” IT.
Accompanied by one of our software developers who I thought would be best suited to this challenge (due to the fact we let him out occasionally to go into schools to teach real world coding skills) we quickly setup our stand and began admiring the surroundings of the school gymnasium wondering how far we would be able to climb up the ropes. Within minutes the doors opened and soon we were quickly overwhelmed by a steady queue of pupils and their parents who were incredibly keen to find out what Netalogue did and put us on the spot asking really interesting and probing questions about taking up a career in IT. I think some parents would have liked to have signed their children up there and then without letting them complete their A-Levels if we had let them.
Considering there has been a steady decline in the ICT syllabus to the point where pupils seem to just be taught how to use productivity applications such as Microsoft Office instead of learning how to develop their own software as was the case when I studied ICT, it was great to see things are now starting to change and software development is back on the agenda with children learning how to program the new BBC Microbit which rekindled fond memories of my first experiences of learning to code on the old BBC B computers. Hopefully these initiatives will start to put the UK back on the world map in software development so we can once again compete with other countries who seem to have overtaken us in this essential skillset.
I found the whole experience so rewarding that Netalogue will be fully supporting this initiative by attending more events like this to help build the next generation of UK software developers through giving invaluable, practical and real world experience by offering short term work experience placements for GCSE level students in addition to longer term summer vacation placements for A-level students with the option of full time roles.