Unfortunately, in many South Carolina K-12 schools, students are still graduating with limited technology skills. The vast majority of high schools do not offer a computer science course.
Today’s workforce demands that we innovate in education. Graduates need to have computational thinking skills and the ability to create and apply technology, not just use it. These skills are developed through exposure to rigorous computer science education.
In 2016, only 32 schools offered an Advanced Placement Computer Science in SC. Less than 400 high-schoolers took the exam. Less than 1 in 5 was female and only 27 were black and 12 were Latino. These outcomes are not satisfying the enormous need for skilled candidates to enter the workforce in our fast-growing tech sector. We currently have more than 4,000 open positions and demand for these jobs is growing at 3.7 times the state average. And, satisfying this need holds tremendous benefit for our state.
Currently, the average salary in computing occupations in South Carolina is about $73,000, which is nearly double the average salary statewide. We need to grow these candidates in our schools. Their careers and futures will help assure a prosperous future for our state. Remember, the high growth rate for the tech industry being experienced in our state means jobs now and in the future. Our young people will be able to stay here and prosper.
Fortunately, now the State Legislature and the Department of Education are both supportive of expanding computer science in our state. The Legislature is proposing a bill to meet this need by expanding access to K-12 computer science. The South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative would require all public and charter high schools to offer at least one rigorous computer science course. And, it would also provide the funds for schools to prepare educators to teach it. So, it’s gratifying to see government thinking proactively toward the future of our children.