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Ethnic, gender imbalances plague computer science education

Kenneth Corbin | June 21, 2016
Amid a new report from BSA, quantifying the economic impact of the software industry, Obama administration officials stress importance of broadening access to programming instruction in K-12 schools.

Historically, the United States has enjoyed a competitive advantage in the software field when measured against foreign rivals, some speakers noted. But that's no argument for complacency.

Ryan Burke, a senior policy advisor on the White House National Economic Council, recalled a recent visit to Delaware, where she met with local tech employers who reported that they were having a hard time hiring graduates from a local community college, because the instructors there were teaching a programming language that was three years behind what businesses were using in the field.

Burke singled out efforts by Coursera and LinkedIn to better align the type of instruction that colleges and other educational programs are offering with what employers are looking for, stressing that the accelerating pace of change in technology is going to require schools to move more quickly to keep their programs up to date.

"We know that these technology changes are going to lead to job shifting not every decade or century, but every year and month, which means that our education and training programs need to be able to adapt as fast as those jobs needs are changing," Burke said. "We know it's just not happening fast enough."


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