Ljubljana – Slovenia’s educational system is good but will need to get better adjusted to the needs of the market for digital know-how and skills, an online debate hosted by the AmCham Slovenia heard on Wednesday.
Andrej Brodnik from the Faculty of Computer and Information Science said there were far too few courses in computer science at primary and secondary schools.
Basic computer science is taught in year one of the university-preparatory secondary school while primary schools only offer some elective courses, which is not enough.
He said other countries gave this field much more attention, so children in Slovenia are at risk of not being competitive on the global labour market.
Agreeing that teaching digital skills was important, Education Minister Simona Kustec said study programmes would be refreshed and basic knowledge enhanced.
She said teaching computer science is at the moment limited to coding, “while we need a subject termed skills of digital acquisition of knowledge”.
“Not to learn only how to make and use computer programs but to start talking about why such knowledge is needed, how it can help us, and only then how to make it.”
She was happy to note the government increased enrolment numbers for computer science this year, saying demand by secondary school graduates had constantly exceeded the number of available university posts in recent years.
Microsoft Slovenija director general Barbara Domicelj said the World Economic Forum expected progress in robotisation to create 97 million new jobs by 2025.
This will bring about a redistribution of work among people and machines, with the trend to be the most pronounced in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport.
This raises the question of whether the rapid technological progress will result in machines taking over the labour market, depriving people of jobs.
But Domicelj said “history teaches us that technological progress has always also had a positive impact on unemployment”, giving the 20th century as proof.
The director of Abelium, a hi-tech company, Boris Horvat, said artificial intelligence should be seen as a tool that can help people.
“Robots will steal our jobs only if we don’t control them. And we will control them only if he have the knowledge,” added Brodnik.