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Tech Show London panel: Cultivating next-generation tech leaders through inclusive education

Written by Wed 21 Jun 2023

Ensuring the next-generation of tech leaders are equipped to deal with the challenges of the future is a pressing issue for society as a whole. Not only do technology experts need to achieve a high-level of industrial knowledge and expertise, but they should also be aware of the immense power of advanced tools backed by AI.

At Tech Show London 2023, a panel of influential technology professionals discussed how to leverage a scientific education to support the next-generation of tech workers, as well as what more schools and businesses can do to provide a tech-first education.

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A cultural challenge

For Professor AI-Khalili, Distinguished Chair and Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, the blame for not equipping young people with tech skills is often laid at the feet of educators themselves, but this is often a cultural issue.

“It’s ingrained in society that physics is a boy subject. The women that I know who have made it in their careers as academics say, ‘I went to an all girls school, because there is no boy subjects and girl subjects; it’s just physics’,” said Professor Al-Khalili.

Hannah Russell, CEO of the British Science Association, agreed that there is a cultural element to the challenges present in fostering the next-generation of tech leaders.

”I think Lithuania has about 70% women in STEM careers. It is a cultural issue that we have ingrained in many respects ourselves. We absolutely do have to challenge the stereotypes,” added Russell.

Empowering next-generation tech leaders

One of the ways to encourage younger people to engage with technology is to show how it is relevant to them. Jennifer Opal, an award-winning DevOps Engineer and technical blogger, said that the voices of young people heard if the world of work is to be made more attractive.

“We should introduce them to different styles of working and, for myself, I work remotely, but it was a big adjustment for working from home. What I found is that I was actually able to create a much more safer, conducive environment to support me and support my disabilities,” said Opal.

Business leaders and educators of all types also have a responsibility to prepare young people for the workplace in what it will look like both today and in ten years, according to Professor AI-Khalili.

“It is going to change so dramatically, particularly with machine learning and automation. AI is going to replace a lot of jobs that people are doing now that maybe don’t require the human elements. It means new jobs and different sorts of industries will open up for people,” added Professor Al-Khalili.

Preparing for the future

While every generation faces major challenges and changes, the rise of advance AI and other world-changing technologies is set to have a significant impact on this generation. For Russell, the immensity of the issue requires more than just schools and colleges to be involved.

“In order to really make a systemic change, we have to work better across the whole sector, including employers, government and educators. I think we have to get better at working together because schools will be driven by accountability,” said Russell.

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Written by Wed 21 Jun 2023

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