Research shows that more than 65 percent of today’s students will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet—and those future roles will require a new set of digital skills. Over the past decade, the European Commission has made it a priority to increase access to learning programs that will help prepare people for these new jobs. Our Grow with Google initiative has been a part of that by helping 431,000 people across Europe learn new Computer Science (CS) skills.
But developing these new skills doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve caught up with a few of the teachers and students who have participated in Grow with Google’s efforts in Ireland, Romania and Germany to hear more about how these programs have impacted their computer science journeys.
Equipping teachers with better educational tools goes a long way to improve students’ digital skills. Since 2014, we’ve worked with Trinity College Dublin to design and launch a new postgraduate certificate in 21st Century Teaching and Learning for in-service teachers. The Trinity Access 21 Program provides workshops and hands-on sessions to help teachers deliver courses in beginner, intermediate and advanced level computer programming and computer systems. To date, more than 250 teachers have completed or are currently completing the postgraduate certificate, with more than 30 teachers progressing to Master’s and Ph.D. level studies.
Deirdre Brennan, a teacher who has been teaching science for over 17 years in Dublin, completed her 21st Century Teaching and Learning postgraduate certificate in 2017. She says: “The certificate gave me a framework and guidance for leading a tinkering-based coding club—which was teacher-facilitated and student-led—in my school at the time. This learning environment created an opportunity for my students to socialize and grow.”
In Romania, we’ve worked with the Romanian Computer Science Teachers’ Association (UPIR) for the past seven years to hold the annual Infoeducatie competition. Students across the country are invited to learn new skills and develop educational and utility software, web applications, multimedia projects and robots in order to win certificates and prizes. The final stage of the competition takes place every year at the Gălăciuc camp, where teams of contestants collaborate to design and build software applications.
Competitions like Gălăciuc camp provide an opportunity for young people to receive feedback and recognition for their learning, and many participate more than once. Robert Dolca, now a software engineer working at Uber, competed in the event three times while in high school. He says, “For me, InfoEducatie has been an opportunity to challenge myself and learn. We met passionate and talented people, and we received constructive feedback on our projects.”
Since 2010, we’ve worked with Bundeswettbewerb Informatik (BwInf), Germany’s national CS competition, to introduce young people to the subject and inspire them to use digital technologies creatively. Jochen Eisinger, for example, competed in BwInf contests numerous times at school before deciding computer science was what he wanted to pursue at university. Today, he manages a number of teams working on Google Chrome. He credits the program with sparking his passion for computer science and confirming his choice to study it: “I learned about BwInf from a poster somebody put up in my school. Over the years, I learned more about computer science and finally won the finals of the 18th BwInf—after five years of trying!”
We’re excited to see how these projects empower future generations of computer scientists. Interest in CS skills training continues to grow across the European continent, and by providing a combination of online and offline educational resources and supporting these long-term initiatives, Grow with Google is proud to work with partners to help students and teachers learn and grow.