How to Prepare Kids for IT Jobs That Don't Exist?

By Robert Half March 26, 2014 at 12:00pm

How do you prepare for an IT job that doesn’t exist? According to The New York Times, 65 percent of elementary school students face this very dilemma.

As the generation moves to secondary school and beyond, these new IT jobs will gradually come into focus. The educational paths to IT careers will also evolve as business needs drive workforce training, with non-traditional approaches such as MOOCs and online mentors rising in prevalence.

Some middle schools have already taken the lead in gearing the curriculum for emerging technologies. Students themselves, ever innovative and curious, are also tapping into resources that provide for the development and sharing of IT knowledge.

Here's how to find a great mentor.

STEM programs prepare students for future IT jobs

In the unassuming state of Kansas, a growing number of schools are refocusing their attention on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum. This broad effort involves introducing new programs, investing in the requisite equipment, and matching kids with mentors. Jay Scott of the Kansas Department of Education said, “We’re preparing kids for careers and occupations that haven’t even been created yet …. STEM represents an opportunity for that to happen.”

Some of the courses available to students under the stem program include robotics, aviation, and GIS (geographic information systems) spatial applications. Though the cost per student increases significantly, schools are making the investment to prepare students for future IT jobs and a global shortage of STEM workers.

Online communities foster student IT knowledge

The next generation of technology workers is also tapping the Internet to develop skills. One popular destination is, where over 30 million visitors have tried an “HOUR of CODE”. The site provides a wide variety of tutorials on subjects ranging from JavaScript to building apps to “unplugged” computer science. The course “Write your first computer program” has a suggested age range of six – 106, emphasizing that all are welcome. Resources are provided at no charge and there are whole sections dedicated to educators.

For students looking for some IT fun, the free website Code/Racer provides a real-time multiplayer game that teaches HTML coding. Community and competition provide some extra motivation as users learn the inner workings of a website. And there are countless other IT resources for students on the Web.

It is obviously not possible to train for jobs that don’t yet exist. The ability to prepare the future IT workforce will depend on the flexibility and accessibility of IT educational systems. Students and IT professionals, in turn, will also need flexibility as success will require constant learning and updating of skills. If a resource can attract the attention of students and quickly pivot to new and evolving technologies, it is likely that future workers will embrace the content, as they are doing now.

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