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Home > News archive > December 2011 > 06 December 2011

Next Gen Skills campaign launches

Interactive entertainment trade body UKIE has announced the launch of the Next Gen Skills campaign that's aiming to change the education system and ensure that the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK 's hi-tech economy are properly embedded in schools and classrooms.

Next Gen Skills is campaigning for:

  • The introduction of an industry relevant Computer Science course within the framework of the National Curriculum
  • A review of ICT in its current form and to embed essential ICT skills across the wider curriculum
  • The promotion of the vital role that teaching maths, physics, art and computer science will play in ensuring the growth of UK 's digital, creative and hi-tech industries

Next Gen Skills is being led by UKIE (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly).

Other launch supporters include Google, TalkTalk, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, Intellect, IPA, British Computing Society, Abertay University , Skillset, GuildHE, e-Skills, NESTA and UK Screen.

Coinciding with the launch of Next Gen Skills, the government has outlined, in its response to the Livingstone Hope Skills review, its commitment to working with industry and educators to develop an attractive computer science offering for schools. The Livingstone Hope Review was published in February 2011 and looked at the skills that were needed to grow the UK's video games and visual effects industries.

In the response the government acknowledges the crucial distinction between ICT and computer science, and suggests that irrespective of whether ICT remains part of the National Curriculum, government will still need to consider how to ensure children "acquire computer science skills".

Speaking at the launch of the Next Gen Skills Campaign, co-author of the Livingstone Hope review and co-chair of the Next Gen Skills Campaign, Ian Livingstone said: "As businesses increasingly rely on technology and computing, the UK has the opportunity to become a global, hi-tech leader. However, we need to improve our education system to allow this potential to be fulfilled.

"Next Gen Skills believes that not having computer science on the national curriculum is a risk to any UK business that has computing and technology at its core. This is as relevant to design, engineering, financial services and architecture, from the building of jet engines to protection against cybercrime, as it is to the digital creative industries.

"We're excited to have so many big names signed up as initial supporters of Next Gen Skills already and we welcome support from any organisations who share our goal of equipping the next generation with the knowledge needed to grow this country's digital, creative and hi-tech economy."

Commenting on the government's response to the Livingstone Hope Skills Review, Ian Livingstone said: "The government's response to the Livingstone Hope Review is very encouraging. To recognise that the current ICT programme is insufficiently rigorous is a great step forward and opens the door to curriculum reform. Computer science is essential knowledge for the 21st century and we recommend nothing less than it being included in the national curriculum. The UKIE-backed Next Gen Skills coalition will continue to work with government to try to make this happen."

Peter Barron, director of external relations, Google EMEA: "Google is delighted to be supporting the Next Gen Skills campaign. Google is a company built on, and still driven by, engineering. As we see increasing potential for growth in the creative, digital and hi-tech industries, we need to ensure that we are equipping the next generation with the skills they need to keep Britain at the cutting edge of technological and scientific innovation."

Steve Beswick, director of education at Microsoft UK: "Microsoft strongly supports the introduction of Computer Science as a rigorous school subject at every level from primary onwards. Microsoft's partners employ half a million people in the technology sector and often find it hard to recruit software developers who have the relevant technical background.

"We need a step change that re-establishes computer science as a high-status school subject, valuable both educationally and economically. Microsoft is already partnering with the Computing at School Group to campaign for computer science in the school curriculum and we are working to improve the UK's computer science skills right across the board: from transformative technology in schools to IT apprenticeships and PhD places which we support at Edinburgh University."

Hasan Bakhshi, director of creative industries at NESTA - which led the research for the Livingstone Hope review - said: "The video games and visual effects industries are a phenomenal success story for the UK. The Next Gen. review showed just how imperative it is that we equip our young people with the technical and creative skills to continue this legacy and grow the hi-tech creative sector in the UK. The Next Gen Skills Campaign will play a vital role in campaigning for the implementation of these findings."

Fiona Clarke-Hackston, chief executive, BSAC added: "Technological change has had a huge impact on the skills needs of the audiovisual industries. If the UK is to remain globally competitive it is essential that changes are made to our educational system. The British Screen Advisory Council fully supports the Next Gen Campaign."

Skillset's Kate O'Connor commented: "Our VFX and games industries know that to remain world leaders, we need to equip the new generation of talent with a fusion of arts, maths and science skills. We support Next Gen Skills' call for putting computer science on the national curriculum and combining this with a new approach to education that encourages young people to fuse those skills with their work in creative disciplines. If we act on this now, we will build a talent base to enable the continued growth of a thriving and dynamic creative sector into the future."

Andy Payne, MD of Mastertronic: "Our business is in content creation. In order for us to continue to be successful we must ensure that our future employees have the skills necessary to both create and distribute compelling content that is wanted by consumers on a worldwide basis. Having ICT and not computer science on the national curriculum is a major error in judgement in our view and will force us to look elsewhere for the talented content creators who can design, build and deliver to content consumers."

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