500,000 is a big number. It’s the number of jobs currently available nationwide in the computer science field.
So it’s not surprising that tech giant Microsoft would be partnering with local school districts to recruit kids into the industry. They’re doing it by bringing computer science professionals into the classroom to inspire students.
“There is a lot of opportunities for you guys to join the computer science field,” Willy Orozco said to an AP computer science class at Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Miami today.
When someone from Microsoft talks, the kids listen.
“So right now there is a huge gap in the industry in computer science professionals, and we’re trying to inspire more kids to go into computer science,” Orozco, who works for Microsoft, told us.
Microsoft calls it the TEALS program. It stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools. Robert Fox, the teacher in that computer science class, sees obvious benefits when IT pros join his classroom discussion.
“I think when the students can look at these volunteers and see themselves, see people just like them doing these amazing things, it makes it a whole lot more real for the students and they can see this is a field, a path they can go down,” Fox said.
His students at Booker T have seen guest speakers in every facet of computer science, from security to programming to game design and more.
“We train those professionals so they can be in the classroom and the idea is for them to co-teach the content so you’re helping them build the capacity of the teacher, and at the same time you’re inspiring the kids in the classroom to go into computer science,” Orozco said.
“Really gives me a more broad idea of things I can do and it just opens up a lot more doors for me,” said Jose Rueda, a 10th grader in the class.
It’s all about the kids seeing real-world perspectives.
“‘Cause this is their everyday job, so you kind of see how they work every day, so you have the teacher’s perspective that they teach and have the curriculum, and then you have the people that are actually doing this job,” Gabriel Bynum, an 11th grader, told us.
“You know, we have, like, the perspective of experience, an experienced person that can help us come in and then talk about their work life in the workforce,” said 11th grader Anthony Castro.
The students can download information from real people in real time, see the connection to their classroom assignments, and be ready for a future in computer science.
“We learn these things and they’re interesting and they’re fun to the students but I love being able to show them how they can apply them in a number of different ways, we have professionals who work in security, in software development, all of these facets of computer science,” Fox said.
Microsoft is almost the middle man in this situation. The company recruits IT volunteers from companies such as Google, Meta, Squarespace, and many others, and they are expanding the program to more schools next year. Currently, TEALS is in nine Miami-Dade high schools and two in Broward.