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News: 2021-06-01

The tech industry in open letter to Anna Ekström: Promote digital knowledge and programming in schools

Swedish IT and Telecom Industries, together with Prevas and a number of industry representatives, have sent an open letter to Education Minister Anna Ekström calling for greater emphasis on digital knowledge and programming in schools. Digitalization and further technological development are limited due to the major challenge faced by the industry in finding people with the right skills.

The extensive digitalization presently underway in society has made the tech sector one of the most important engines for employment and economic growth. The services, products and technological innovations developed by the industry have become an increasingly important part of the national economy.

"Society has changed," says Åsa Zetterberg, federation director for Swedish IT and Telecom Industries. "In the past, it was mainly about physically constructing products. Today, everything from trucks to music relies on digital solutions. The tech industry is the engine here, and the schools thus need to reflect this shift."

Jobs in system development are now among the most common in Sweden. The labor market for those in IT and systems science academic programs is bright to say the least. For the tech industry, the challenge is twofold – finding people with the right skills and helping more young women to see IT and tech as a profession for the future.

"The need for people in the tech field has never been greater," says Johan Jacobsson, CEO of Sylog. "We're constantly struggling to find and recruit new talent, and our clients are increasingly forced to postpone projects because there just aren't enough people to go around."

The undersigned are now addressing Education Minister Anna Ekström in an open letter, proposing that digital knowledge and programming be given greater emphasis in Swedish schools.

"Digitalization permeates our entire society and should similarly permeate all subjects in schools," says Disa Jernudd at Kodcentrum. "Working with programming and digital creation in teaching education provides an understanding of our society, how everything is connected and is a prerequisite for students being able to effectively participate in society.".

The letter has been signed by several different representatives from the tech industry. The letter was written on the initiative of the non-profit organization Kodcentrum and the IT company Sylog. In addition to IT&Telecom companies, other signatories include Prevas, Kivra and Scania.

Interim report January - March 2021

Open letter to Education Minister Anna Ekström.

Create the conditions for schools to work with digital competence and programming.

The IT industry in Sweden is growing and becoming increasingly important. Jobs in system development are now among the most common in the country.

The major challenge for us is in finding workers with the appropriate skills and interest. According to a recent report from Swedish IT and Telecom Industries, we will have a shortage of 70,000 IT specialists unless special efforts are made. If we do not succeed in recruiting new talent, Sweden's position in IT will be threatened.

Some years ago, there was a lot of talk about programming in schools. As a result, programming was added to the primary school curriculum both as part of mathematics and science, as well as part of digital competence in the overall goals. The evaluations conducted show that this has not been nearly enough. Students do not gain an understanding of programming and the digital foundations required in modern society.

We must realize that in today's labor market, digital knowledge, programming and system development are crucial skills. The schools do not reflect this at all. There is a very real risk of this leading to the country falling behind.

A crucial factor in students gaining the understanding we are looking for is that we have skilled teachers. It is therefore very worrying that seven out of ten mathematics teachers lack formal training in programming, according to a survey by the Swedish Teachers’ Union.

The schools must be given the proper conditions – time, budgets competence, support – to implement digital competence and programming as a natural aspect of all subjects. Digitalization affects everything in our society and is therefore relevant in all school subjects. By placing greater emphasis on this knowledge in school, the IT industry will also be better positioned to recruit more young women, which is a shortcoming today and a strategic issue for us in the industry.

We realize that this is not simple and that both resources and teachers with the right skills are required. We in the industry would be happy to help in this work, so that more students can gain the opportunity to further develop their knowledge to meet the demands of the labor market of thefuture.

Johan Jacobsson, CEO, Sylog Sverige AB
Disa Jernudd, Secretary General, Kodcentrum
Johan Strid, CEO, Prevas AB
Åsa Zetterberg, Federation Director, IT&Telecom Companies
Anna Bäck, CEO, Kivra AB
Peter Vincent, Head of Connected Systems Scania