UBIT-Harl: “Digital education in Austria is a colorful mosaic of different disciplines that have little to do with actual computer science”. The ICT Status Report #6 from the Professional Association UBIT of the Camber of Commerce shows an acute need for action in IT education and makes it clear: dropout rates are still too high.
Universities and technical colleges: dropout rates of over 50%
Shortage of IT specialists: Up to 30,000 will be missing in the next five years
UBIT: IT education must be further reformed
Vienna, April 27, 2022 – to the curricula proposed by the Ministry of Education for the new compulsory subject “Digital basic education”, which is to be taught in the middle school and the AHS lower school from autumn 2022, the Association Management for Consultancy, Accounting and IT (UBIT) of the Chamber of Commerce of Austria with great surprise.
“We have been calling for deep and practice-oriented computer science formation at school for years. Unfortunately, however, the Ministry of Education proposal has more to do with the imparting of media skills than with real computer science skills that are urgently needed by the companies”, said Alfred Harl, of the UBIT association.
In principle, the mediation of media literacy is important. But: “In order to protect our children from cyberbullying or fake news, we do not need our own school subject. These skills can also be passed in with existing subjects. Computer science is the cornerstone for digitization and thus for our sustainable prosperity. If we don’t want to lose connection internationally, we urgently need young talents with computer science skills. They are the foundation for the active participation of the digital transformation”, says Harl.
In the current draft assessment by the Ministry of Education on the planned new compulsory subject “Digital Basic Education”, media skills are the main focus in addition to computer science. All of these areas share the designated teaching time of one hour per week.
Martin Zandonella underlines: “It is high time to take internationally successful ways and to enable 10- to 14-year-olds to form a well-founded basic computer science. This can only be conveyed in which professionally trained computer science teachers are also used. We have to prevent this from being overloaded with too different content. Therefore, competencies for the pure application of digital media should be taught within the framework of existing subjects and the new compulsory subject should focus on computer science seperately.”
IT education as a driver of the shortage of IT specialists
There is currently a shortage of around 24,000 IT specialists in Austria, resulting in an annual loss of added value of around 3.8 billion euros for Austria’s economy. The UBIT Association sees the training of IT specialists as a key source. At Austria’s technical colleges and universities where IT and ICT courses are taught are still high dropout rates – too many students drop out of their studies prematurely.
Especially those who cancel a bachelor’s degree in most cases are lost for the IT industry forever. “The IT formation must be fundamentally reformed. It is not enough that it only starts at the universities”, comments Alfred Harl. “However, in the current design of the school subject >>Digital basic formation<< cannot be spoken of effective computer science formation”, said Harl.
The UBIT calls on the federal government – in particular the economics and education ministries – to continue working on the training of ICT specialists.
The UBIT summarized the current status quo of IT training and how this is related to the shortage of IT specialists in this year’s IKT Status Report.
The Professional Association of Management Consulting, Accounting and IT (UBIT)
With more than 76,000 members, the UBIT Association is one of the largest and most dynamic associations of the Austria Chamber of Commerce. It perceives the interests of entrepreneurs from the areas of management consultancy, accounting and information technology. The aim is to optimize professional framework conditions and to communicate the benefits of the professional groups to the market. Members can claim extensive advisory and services.