Programming and Coding: A-level Qualification

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 3:15 pm, 2nd March 2015

T10. Mr Buchanan asked the Minister of Education how seriously he views the fact that only six post-primary schools in Northern Ireland are offering an A-level qualification in programming and coding — a qualification required by over 60% of companies in Northern Ireland that are looking for employees — and what he is doing to address this situation. (AQT 2200/11-15)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

The Member may be referring to a new A level that has been introduced into the system. I do not have the exact numbers of schools providing that A level. We are providing training and support to schools so that a greater number of them can take on that A level. It is very relevant to the STEM debate that the Assembly is holding.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Does he agree that it is an essential qualification that post-primary schools should be taking up?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

It is certainly an essential qualification if you are going to enter the field of computer science or computing. This goes back to one of the other questions that I was asked during Question Time. I hope that young people who are seeking to enter a career in computing and ICT are advised that this new A level is available and will significantly enhance their opportunities. It all comes back to good careers advice being given to young people so that they know which pathway they want to choose and what qualifications they require to follow that pathway.