Of all the audiences that I speak to, I find young children to be the hardest. I’m sure I would get used to it but I’d have to work hard to be a teacher. This morning we laid on a fun day at the education development Centre for a group of Year 5 pupils from a few schools. Their teachers were there as well.
It was all part of our effort to try and get more young people to think about ICT as a career choice. We need more and more people to come and work in the industry and already we are finding it difficult to attract the people we need. We’ve been using agency staff to smooth out some of the peaks in our demand but we just can’t get anyone interested. We have been more successful in attracting apprentices yet no women. The skills shortage in the ICT industry is going to get worse for some time to come until it gets better.
We need to catch them young. I think year 5 is eight or none years old.
Anyway, of all the audiences that I speak to, I find young children to be the hardest. They just don’t know the rules. They don’t nod when you look at them, you can’t use management speak and they let you know very quickly if you are boring them. They don’t suffer fools and they don’t take prisoners.
I decided to keep it short. This is what I went with.
Good morning, my name is Phil and along with Aimie and John and Sandra, I help to look after all the computers in Durham County Council. I’d like to welcome you to our ICT Fun Day and thank you for coming. So, who wants to work with computers when they get older? Great, me too but then I’m really old.
I’ve got two daughters. One works in a big shop and the other works in an office in Manchester. They both use computers every day at work. When I was at school we didn’t have computers at all or mobile phones. It wasn’t until I was at work for a long time that they became important.
Now they are everywhere but not just the ones you see. They’re in washing machines and televisions and cars and toys. In fact computers are everywhere. Imagine that you had a thousand computers, well in five years’ time that is just what we will have. There will be a thousand computers for every person alive. Everything we do will have a computer in it somewhere and so we need people who are good at using them. People who can get robots to do things, people who can make computers look nice, people who can make music or play games on them.
I love working with computers. They’re really exciting and fun. They help me to do lots of things. We’ve laid on some exciting things for you to do today and so it’s lovely to see you and I hope you enjoy yourselves today.
I hope to see some of their smiling faces in another ten or fifteen years.