INTERVIEW: Aditya Agarwal explains why computer science should be a core component of the education curriculum
Dropbox CTO Aditya Agarwal believes school education and a more vocational approach to training will be key components of the effort to plug the growing skills gap in the technology sector.
Speaking to Silicon, Argawal emphasised the importance of starting computer science education as young as possible and that it should be viewed as a core component of the curriculum, rather than an option.
“There’s clearly a skills gap and the right way to fix is it through education”, he said. “It’s about getting to the point where we view computer science as a basic skill. In the same way that you study English, you study mathematics, you study science, you should study computer science.
“Being able to manipulate computers is the biggest superhuman ability that has ever been given, so why aren’t we teaching that to every single boy and girl from when they are give years old?
Plugging the gap
In the shorter term, Argawal believes that a new approach to skill development is required: “We need to start thinking less of computer science as being this thing that you have to go to college for for four years, but start thinking of it as more like vocational training.
“My firm belief is that anybody who is smart and anybody who is driven and who wants to learn computer science, can learn it. And they can learn it in 6 or 9 months, it doesn’t have to take 4 years. Just because you didn’t go to university it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a great computer scientist.”
Technology companies have known for a while that the skills gap is a very real problem and many have taken steps to stem the leak. Oracle, for example, has pledged to invest $1.4 billion (£1.1bn) into improving computer science and coding skills in Europe, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched a cloud training programme called AWS re:Start for young people and military veterans in the UK.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has also expanded its reach into schools with the launch of a magazine for educators and the F1 in Schools programme has been working hard to help develop the next generation of engineers.
Argawal was speaking at a Dropbox press event in San Francisco this week for the launch of its team-focused Smart Sync and Paper products where, along with CEO Drew Houston, he passionately condemned Donald Trump’s immigration stance as being “completely un-American” and “against the values on which this country was founded”.
Houston also provided us with insight into the company’s IPO strategy and announced some impressive new revenue milestones that have been achieved as Dropbox has grown in stature in the enterprise market.