In the past few decades, and in recent years especially, the workforce has changed dramatically in Ohio and across the world. Jobs in various fields of technology have grown exponentially, but our workforce has not quite caught up with the change. Students who have an interest in computer science need to be prepared and have the opportunity to study the field—before post-secondary education. Oftentimes, these kinds of careers don’t require a traditional four-year college education, so offering courses in high school can give these students a head start.
That’s why the Ohio House has taken steps toward encouraging high school students to pursue an education in technology-related fields. This week, we passed legislation that requires the State Board of Education to adopt academic content standards and curriculum for computer science. Ensuring local control, House Bill 170, sponsored by my colleagues Representatives Rick Carfagna and Mike Duffey, provides flexibility within individual school districts by giving them the authority to decide whether or not to implement these standards.
Under the bill, students may elect to take a computer science course instead of Algebra II, most science courses, like geology, or as an elective. Such courses could include web development, coding, and app development classes. With an abundance of smart technology, mobile apps, and online interactions, the marketplace is booming for workers skilled in computer science. With Ohio’s traditional low-skill, high-wage workforce declining as technology takes over various industries, our students need to have the skills to jump into a trade where jobs are plentiful.
House Bill 170 is supported by a number of interested parties—including Google, Amazon, Code.org, and the Computer Science Teachers Association—businesses and non-profits that understand where computer science is trending and how much the industry needs skilled employees. To keep Ohio on the right track towards a new and developing society and to continue our success, it is important to encourage our high school students to pursue an education that will result in a well-paying and satisfying career with high job security.
It’s important to not only consider issues that affect Ohio in the here and now, but at the state level we must also think about Ohio and its citizens’ direction into the future. Advanced technology is here, and it isn’t going anywhere. House Bill 170 will help train our prospective workforce for the jobs that are prevalent now and their continued availability for decades to come. It’s hard to tell just where technological advancements will take us, but Ohio will be better prepared to go there.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.