Dealing with the digital divide

February 20, 2018

Originally posted on CIO From IDG 

As the world turns digital, a vanguard of IT professionals are championing their profession to the millennials.

“The technology-related talent of the future will not miraculously materialise, it must be cultivated,” according to Gartner.

“Education leaders and students need to see how knowledge will be used in the working world, to guide them to better outcomes. One way to achieve that is via public-private partnerships — private companies sponsoring community college training programmes,” write Gartner analysts analysts Mark Raskino, Patrick Meehan and Mary Mesaglio.

Thus, one of their CIO resolutions for the year ahead was for business technology leaders to, “build a partnership with a local community college, or a secondary or middle school”.

It is all part of the CIO’s “personal development”, they point out.

Some of the activities CIOs can take are to visit local schools to engage on work-study or innovation challenges, or to propose an after-school technology club to encourage discussions on technologies and trends.

The CIO can support the club by providing materials or the venue, and time from their team, they state.

This focus on the community is familiar territory for a number of New Zealand ICT leaders.

Shailan Patel of MYOB hosting AMES IT students at the 2017 MYOB hackathon

Enable our tamariki to be creators with technology

Vivian Chandra is an advisor for OMGTech!, but also its CTO.

OMGTech is a not for profit organisation, which develops and delivers workshops for teachers and students on digital technologies.

“OMGTech! wants to help enable all our tamariki to be creators with technology not just consumers of it,” says Chandra.

“Understanding how it all works will be a fundamental requirement to participation in society in the future.

“It’s important to become a digital citizen, not just from a job creation point of view, but from a societal one. Our kids will be using technology to shape their world in the future.

“But access to digital technologies can be expensive and out of reach for many. So being able to bring our workshops directly into schools allows us build long-term partnerships and reach a much larger group of kids,” says Chandra.

OMGTech! partners with major technology companies, such as Spark and Microsoft, to tap into their existing volunteer programmes.

Staff from Xero doing ‘Hour of Code’ with students Ridgway school in Wellington. (Photo courtesy of OMGTech)

Through this, we have been able to deliver programmes directly into schools, she says. “This allows all the children to spend time with, and hear stories from, people who are working in the technology sector.”

She quotes Vaughan Rowsell,  the founder of OMGTech, Vend, and vice chair of the New Zealand High Tech Trust, who said: “It is important that we ensure every Kiwi kid has access to future technologies. We need to ensure that we are focusing on getting digital education into our underserved communities.”

Vend CEO Vaughan Rowsell

“The technology sector is our third largest export sector and the creative technology sector is growing fast as well, with the film, music and game design industries all flourishing,” says Rowsell.

“These industries are creating the jobs of the future. They have a strong role to play in helping to upskill the next generation and this programme allows them to work directly with schools to inspire the next generation.”

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