Bill Gates encourages IT industry to support education
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Bill Gates encourages IT industry to support education

According to Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates, education should be the next major area of investment for the IT industry.

During his keynote speech at the 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, Gates said that due to recent innovations that have given more U.S. youth access to mobile devices, it is time that IT industry leaders begin enabling the wider integration of advanced technology in schools, the IDG News Service reported. Many K-12 textbooks now feature a digital component, such as the opportunity for students to go online and complete additional exercises, and there could be benefits to companies embracing this model more fully.

Gates estimated that markets for education-facing IT solutions, including back-end infrastructure, could be worth $9 billion if leaders in the tech field, along with school officials, embrace change.

Advanced technology has become a part of everyday operations in many fields of work, and for this reason it is crucial that the education system supports efforts to create more tech-literate adults. Recently, some schools have been taking this process to the next level by emphasizing STEM education in new and creative ways.

Along with local colleges, IBM helped launch New York City's P-TECH school in 2011, which allows students to complete an Associate's Degree in computer science in addition to their high school diploma. The New York Daily News reported that, in response to the program's early success, at least two new similar schools will be opening in September, 2013, with more likely to come in 2014.

With the IT industry facing a skills shortage, it may be more important now than ever for leaders in this sector to support passion for and knowledge of technology in today's students.