Written by Howard Lewis, UK and International Managing Director at Discovery Education
Many countries face an unprecedented shortage of IT experts and the tech talent shortfall remains a hurdle to future growth. As this “tech talent crunch” continues, equipping workforces for the modern digital economy is a challenge for governments and businesses everywhere.
Unfortunately, the dearth of tech talent will likely continue for the foreseeable future. The EU has said it needs 20million tech experts by 2030 – an increase of over 122%, while the UK Government has stated its ambition to “attract the next generation of AI leaders from around the world”, as part of a new science and technology strategy. 
Education systems worldwide can play a key role in addressing the global shortfall of tech talent, and our efforts should begin with our classroom teachers. So what can teachers do to prepare today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow?
Here are five ways that schools can get students ready for the modern digital economy.
- Teach Hands-On STEM
Inspiring an early love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning is important, but how should educators approach this subject in primary school? Many teachers find that combining the STEM subjects works best. This connected approach helps young learners to understand how STEM is applied in the real world. Linking primary science topics with practical Design-and-Make STEM projects is a great way to do this. By creating fun, hands-on learning experiences such as designing a bridge or coding a computer game, teachers can make STEM relatable and enjoyable from an early age.
- Make Coding Fun
Coding is among the most important job skills of the future but it’s often perceived as difficult by students and teachers alike. In reality, coding can be simple and fun, and introducing it early can ignite children’s enthusiasm. Showing how coding relates to the real world is important and resources that tap into kids’ love for tech work well. Discovery Education Coding helps young learners take coding from concept to reality by creating their own apps and games as they build computational thinking skills. Discovery Education Coding also helps grow teacher confidence, with lesson plans and step by step instructions.
- Deliver Real-World Learning
Technology can take students to amazing places and give them remarkable learning experiences without ever leaving the classroom. Virtual field trips allow children to travel the world from the comfort and safety of their school, or home. And immersive learning – Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – broadens horizons even further. By delivering these powerful learning experiences, teachers can ignite children’s enthusiasm for tech and the magic it creates. They’ll also help them to build sought-after skills for the future world of work.
- Foster Creativity and Innovation
It’s easy to imagine that the solution to the future of work is to focus on digital skills. But in an age of automation, creativity will be more important than ever. Tomorrow’s workforce won’t just be tech savvy, they’ll need to be creative problem solvers as well, and schools have an important role to play in building environments that foster and reward innovation. Teaching for creativity is fast becoming a global phenomenon, with countries such as Finland, Canada, and Australia re-working their curricula to encourage it. By infusing creativity throughout learning – particularly in the STEM subjects – we can better prepare children for the changing world of work.
- Find Role Models
If we want students to aspire to careers in tech, we need to provide relatable role models that inspire them. Mentoring and internships work well in secondary school but teachers should also introduce role models in primary school, to sow the seed of ambition in younger children. Evidence shows that children start to form ideas about their future from a very young age and preconceptions about certain careers can be hard to reverse. By providing opportunities for primary school children to learn about and even meet today’s tech experts, we can open their eyes to the world of future job possibilities and get them ready for tomorrow.
 EU Digital Decade Strategy: https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/europes-digital-decade-digital-targets-2030_en
 UK Science and Technology Strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-science-and-technology-framework/the-uk-science-and-technology-framework#talent-and-skills
 Career Related Learning in Primary Schools, 2018: https://resources.careersandenterprise.co.uk/sites/default/files/2021-09/1145_What%20works%20Primary_digital%20version_07_01_2019.pdf