Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday recommended the State Board of Education amend state policy to allow computer programming courses to satisfy core requirements — math, science or foreign language — for receiving a high-school diploma. Deal is asking the Board of Regents of the University System to follow suit by accepting these courses for admission into institutions of higher education.
“Students need to acquire the 21st century skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce,” Deal said. “Computing is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the country with average salaries nearly twice the national rate. In fact, more than half of the projected job growth in the STEM fields will be in computing occupations. We must begin training our young people in these areas prior to their post-secondary education so they are prepared to fill these high-wage, in-demand positions.”
“This change will support our STEM efforts — science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said. “It is a recognition of the evolving dynamics of our increasingly technologically dependent world.”
“If Georgia is to maintain a world-class workforce, then we must ensure that our students can understand and apply sophisticated technology,” Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson said. “I applaud Gov. Deal for this change that will improve the education of students and build a better future for Georgia.”
Deal this year created the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative, which regularly brings together the heads of economic development, Georgia’s university and technical-college systems and key leaders in some of the private-sector industries to hear directly from the employers of our state about what they expect their future needs will be. It also gives state institutions of education the chance to get ahead of the curve in preparing tomorrow’s workforce.
“As Georgia’s workforce and education leaders have traveled the state meeting with businesses, they have heard repeatedly that there is a need for skilled computer programmers and software developers in the state,” Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr said. “Our goal with the High Demand Career Initiative is to support Georgia companies with their workforce needs and provide our students with the resources and programs to secure job opportunities in Georgia.”
“As the state’s leading voice dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Georgia’s technology industry, the Technology Association of Georgia recognizes that we all have to do more to meet the future demand for a tech-ready workforce,” TAG President and CEO Tino Mantella said. “It’s imperative that we prepare Georgia’s kids today for the jobs of tomorrow. To that end, TAG supports this initiative to strengthen coding and programming for k-12 students in the state.”
Currently, Georgia allows advanced-placement computer science to satisfy the fourth and final science credit in high school. Only 18 percent of Georgia high schools offer this class and less than 1 percent of students took the course in 2013. Other coding courses can count only as elective credit and access to these courses is limited.
“I am working to keep Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation for business and we must have a strong education system that responds to the needs of companies across our state in order to do so,” Deal said. “Computer science should no longer be just a high-school elective. With the help of strong partners like Georgia Tech, we can develop these valuable courses and better prepare our students for college and the workforce.”