Making Maths Count
Want to change the world?
Want to change the world? You should be embracing maths then. Here Caroline Stuart, Director of Oracle Scotland and a member of our Making Maths Count group, explains why.
To me it seems incredibly odd that there are still people who think maths can only lead to a boring career, sitting on your own, staring at numbers. But these perceptions and stereotypes still seem to exist and, to put it bluntly, they are holding us back.
I have been incredibly lucky throughout my career to move from one interesting job to another. Since graduating in Technology and Business Studies from Strathclyde University in 1986 I’ve worked in a variety of sectors from Financial Services, Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales, to Recruitment and IT. I have worked with nearly every industry sector you can imagine and the thing that links them all is the use of technology.
I joined my current employers, Oracle, in 2000. Oracle is the largest enterprise software company in the world. Our software powers everything from the shops on the high street, your bank, your holiday bookings, right through to keeping us safe and secure as a country. All types of businesses use our software to run their business because whether it’s keeping in touch with your clients, taking payments, protecting yourself from cyberattacks or growing your business around the world – technology now underpins every business you can think of and therefore these skills are a must have for a career in the 21st Century.
Logic and reasoning
Don’t get me wrong. To understand and work within the IT sector you don’t need a degree in maths – although further study is always helpful – but you do need a firm grounding in the basic skills, logical thinking and reasoning of maths. I’m concerned that’s lacking in a significant proportion of the workforce which will mean they will struggle in the changing world of careers in the 21st Century. That is why the work of this group – to find out why people aren’t enthusiastic enough about maths, and set out how we address that – is so important.
Jobs in the technology sector are growing and we have the chance to be at the forefront of things. A report published this month by Tech Nation UK shows that digital technology workers in Edinburgh are amongst the highest paid in the sector in the UK. More than 21,300 people are now estimated to work in digital technology roles in Edinburgh, with the overall estimate for Scotland at almost 101,400.
Filling the gaps
As these numbers continue to grow, we need to make sure we have the people to fill them. Working in a global company I see the great strides being made in other countries to embed these skills into schools so that all students can make the most of these opportunities. We mustn’t get left behind.
Computer Science skills are fundamental to our economic recovery. Yet according to a report released by the Prince’s Trust, two-thirds of companies fear a lack of skilled workers could limit their ability to expand and jeopardize Britain’s economic recovery.
These skills are also hugely important to entrepreneurs establishing new companies. Small to medium sized enterprises (SME) form the backbone of our economy and we’re seeing tech hubs popping up across the UK (and all over the world) to incubate and promote these companies which are developing new products and services across every business sector imaginable and some yet to be imagined.
To solve this problem and encourage future generations to engage in a more digital literate future, we must get students – especially women – interested in subjects like maths and computing. We have less women in our industry than in 1980 which is a terrible situation and not one of which we should be proud.
Retailers, investment banks, fashion designers, healthcare, food and drink, manufacturing and film and TV – every business you can think of needs a variety of skills from programmers, data scientists, big data experts, developers, computer games programmers and animation coders who can contribute to and increasingly be at the centre of their success. So wherever your interest lies, Computer Science can open the door to a career in that sector.
In an era when people’s views on how and where they want to work is changing, I can also think of no other subject that allows the flexibility of working that Computer Science does. Whether you want to become your own boss, build a global company, or have a working life that fits around having a family.
A career in Computer Science will literally allow you to change the world, and I’m frequently telling people that. We need more ambassadors to come on board and sell that message far and wide.
Caroline Stuart is Director Oracle Scotland.