Amid staff shortage, tech leaders want more computer education in California schools

There is currently a large mismatch between demand and supply of computer science graduates, the industry said

Leaders of key technology companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Salesforce.com have written to the Governor of California Jerry Brown offering to partner with the state to increase computer education in kindergarten to 12th grade schools.

90 percent of these K-12 schools do not currently teach computer science. On the other hand, there is a mismatch between the number of computer science jobs and graduates in the state, according to the letter which is signed by business executives as well as organizations active in the area of education.

"The Conference Board estimates 70,000 open computing jobs in California -- roughly 16 jobs for every computer science graduate in the state!," according to the letter.

The lack of access in urban and rural schools also creates inequity for students of color, with the result that in the entire state of California, only 74 African Americans and 392 Hispanic Americans took the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam in 2013, the executives wrote in the letter.

"Our shared goal should be that every K-12 student has access to high-quality computer science," said the letter, which is signed among others by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix.

Code.org, a nonprofit focused on expanding participation in computer science in schools, launched a campaign called the Hour of Code, an opportunity for students to try computer science for one hour. In four months, 34 million students have tried the Hour of Code, and almost 1.5 million people have signed Code.org's petition asking to expand computer science education, according to the letter.

The signatories have asked for a meeting with Brown to discuss "how we can work together and make California a computer science trailblazer."

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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