In a new approach to fixing the computer science skill gap, Microsoft is sending its own engineers to teach in high school classrooms. Volunteers for the program commit to teaching a computer science class for a full school year for at least two hours a week.
The shortage of computer science graduates is becoming a huge problem in the tech industry, and the economy in general. Although 150,000 computing jobs are expected to open up each year through 2020, only 14,000 students received undergraduate degrees in computer science last year—down 34 percent from 2004. Microsoft’s program hopes to fix this problem by introducing students to computer science at an early age. Computer science is rarely a requirement in high school, and would-be teachers are usually diverted into high-paying corporate jobs, The New York Times reports. The program is now in 22 schools in the Seattle area and a dozen more in other states, and its 110 volunteers also instruct classroom teachers so that the courses continue after they leave. Most importantly, they are sparking students’ interest in computer science by relating it to the mobile, computer, and online software they use daily.