The Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees shows that only 4,1% of the master degrees in 2009 were in areas like Mathematics and Computer Science. With today’s need of programmers and other IT-related jobs, this is worrying. We need more people than we have in those areas, and in a long-term perspective, we should really try to encourage kids to take a leap into programming. In my opinion, programming is not as hard as people believe it is, and anyone can be taught at any age. It is all about how you get introduced to programming.
There are a lot of tools that are designed in order to teach kids how to code, but the computer itself may not be the best tool. Before kids learn different coding languages, they should enter the app world in order to learn the basics. There are plenty of apps that provide kids with programming skills and logical thinking. For instance, there is Scratch developed especially for 8- to 16-year-olds. The programming language is visual and they learn how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively by for example creating games. These are skills that later can make someone a great programmer. Other skills that come with Scratch is teamwork, which also is valuable for kids to learn at an early age.
I have done research on whether schools in Sweden will add programming as an own subject in primary school or not since it has been a hot topic for a while. Unfortunately, the government decided not to, for now. They will include programming in subjects like Mathematics, but programming will not be its own subject. I do not see the point of why we should not teach kids programming in primary school. Lots of jobs are taken away due to the evolution of information technology and information systems. If we include programming as a natural part of primary school, then we will not lack talents in this area in a long-term perspective.