Earlier this month, health and wellness company Melaleuca.com invited 28 high school students to its company headquarters in Idaho for a 5-day IT camp. The camp was led by a computer programming professor from BYU-Idaho, but students also got hands-on training from some of Melaleuca’s IT professionals.
The company says it decided to do the workshop because today’s teenagers are already interested in computer programming and information technology. The only problem is that many of them, especially if they live in rural areas, don’t get an opportunity to learn about it in school.
Melaleuca has a state-of-the-art IT department with talented staff, so they figured a weeklong computer programming camp would be an ideal way to show kids who may be interested in IT careers what the job is actually like. The highlight of the camp was giving the students a chance to design and build their very own smartphone app. Students learned coding and other IT skills, all under the guidance of industry experts.
The company announced the event—which did not cost the students to attend—at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 school year. They planned for the workshop to consist of a single session for 16 kids (which is how many computers they has in the designated training room). However, dozens of interested high schoolers applied. Melaleuca added a second session in the afternoon with 12 more students, but still had to turn away several hopefuls.
IT and computer programming are rapidly growing industries, and today’s youngsters are primed to take over those jobs. The older portion of the workforce didn’t grow up with computers in their hands and pockets like millennials did/do. Many experts argue that IT comes more naturally to the younger generation, and they are probably right.
Hopefully, more and more companies like Melaleuca.com will provide learning opportunities for today’s tech-savvy students. In addition, school systems across the country need to more fully embrace IT and incorporate it into their curricula. That doesn’t mean we should do away with arts or other areas of learning: IT is so varied and versatile that it meshes beautifully with music, health sciences, english—really any school subject.
As society continues to evolve in terms of computer technology, inspiring our children to expand their IT skills will be vital to maintaining a competitive workforce. Too many of today’s students who have a natural curiosity for computers and information technology don’t ever get the opportunity to turn that curiosity into a passion.
The responsibility for making that happen more often lies with us.