By 2023 science, research, engineering and technology jobs are expected to make up 7.8% of all jobs in the UK and occupy 2.5m roles – if your child enjoys their IT, science or technology lessons at school then encourage them to stick with it. Perhaps they even already know they want to study for a computer science degree or qualifications? Read on to find out how you can help them make the right choices whilst still at school.
Computer scientists understand how computers process information and use specific computer languages to command them - heard of Python? It’s not just a type of snake. It’s a broad area that covers a number of roles, from Game Developers to Office IT Managers. Here’s just some of the roles computer science covers:
- Software Developer
Designs and creates computer programs, scopes out the functionality and way it will work – considered to have creative minds
- Computer Programmer
Think The Matrix - the writers of code and computer languages that are used for websites, games, apps, social networks – almost anything digital
- IT Architecht
Able to see the big picture and knit together multiple IT systems – integral from the smallest business to the largest
They have their own annual appreciation day. Like the conductor of a choir - this role is tasked with keeping an organisation's computer network running smoothly
- Systems Analyst
Study complex processes or operations to recommend and create efficiencies to make businesses IT systems the best they can be
With some experience, earnings can be expected to be between £25,000 and £35,000 a year. In a senior role as a computer scientist, expected earnings are £45,000 to £70,000 per year depending on the company and location of the employer.
Computer science is expected to create the highest number of new jobs and be the top industry in most UK regions by 2023. It looks to be one of the most reliable and in-demand job areas of the future.
The IT and problem-solving skills computer science develops can be useful in many different careers. There are many ways to get into computer science from courses and degrees to apprenticeships and starting early can only be an advantage. You could encourage your child to try and learn to code at home - sites like code.org will have them creating their own websites in no time.
During GCSEs or Standard Grades, you could opt to study:
- ICT / Computer Studies
For academic subjects such as A Levels or Highers, you could study:
- ICT / Computer Science
Related subjects include:
- Further Maths
- ICT / Computer Studies
- Philosophy & Ethics
Skills you need
If your child is passionate about computers or gaming, here are just some of the skills that will be useful in the future and they can work on developing.
- Problem solving
- Time management and organisation
- Retrieval of Information
- Commercial awareness
- Coping with rapid technological changes in computing
Work experience is a good way for your child to apply knowledge and build skills for the industry they want to enter, which can be in the form of volunteering, shadowing, internships or IT-related work placements.
Alternatively, during university, depending on the course, your child may have the option of a year in industry (also known as a sandwich course) where they can build a network of contacts and put their skills into practice in a commercial environment. Extra-curricular activities that give them the opportunity to develop web design, computing or coding skills are also useful to include on job applications.
Although many women are already in this type of career, there’s still more work to do to attract women into the science industry as whole. The UK is trailing behind Europe in terms of female representation - currently making up just 16% of the workforce.
Many companies, including EDF Energy, are committed to helping address the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). We run a number of STEM initiatives including the Pretty Curious programme which sets out to challenge what girls’ think they know about STEM. There are some amazing careers that use science and it’s our job to help inspire girls to look differently at STEM using strong female role models and creative digital and hands-on experiences.
- You could find a role model in a friend or colleague that can encourage them through their own experiences.
- There are many free exhibitions and events that bring science to life outside of the classroom, for example take a look at our eight UK-wide visitor centres where you can explore science in a fun free and family-friendly way every school holiday or weekend.
- Be supportive - we’re all unique in our passions and it doesn’t matter if they aren’t sure what they want to do yet.
- Be patient, encouraging and provide the support they need to find their way whether that’s with tutoring, extracurricular activities or just celebrating their successes.
- You could encourage your child to look at volunteering for organisations that marry with their interests. They get to explore a variety of working environments, develop employability skills and make new friends all of which will boost their confidence. You can find a list of volunteer opportunities here.
- If your child is unsure of the subjects to take, you could encourage them to speak to a careers advisor or explore the below resources for guidance:
My World of Work – choosing GCSE options
Prospects career guide
The Complete University Guide
Which? guide to university
- Your child is young and it’s okay for them to change their minds. Roma who was part of the team that design London’s iconic Shard building, did just that – watch her story in 360°.