No matter what field you go into, you’re likely going to have to work on a computer at some point. We live in a digital age, and computer science jobs are on the rise. But the Newfoundland and Labrador high school curriculum only offers one computer science course, and a petition has been started to change that.

James Flynn, a graduate of Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s, started the online petition calling for Minister of Education Clyde Jackman to improve computer programming education at the high school level.

Flynn says that the one course offered in high school, Webmaster, is considered by many students to be an easy elective that does not offer any real, useful programming skills.

“My concern is that the junior high school and high school curriculum in Newfoundland completely fails to expose students to any sort of computer science. An incredibly small number of students in my graduating class pursued computer engineering or computer science at the postsecondary level, and I really do believe that it is because of the lack of exposure in the public education system,” said Flynn.

He is currently studying Political Science and Economics at the University of Toronto, but is a self-taught programmer.

“If I had had the option to take computer programming courses in high school, I am quite confident that I would currently be studying computer science instead,” said Flynn.

Flynn says that given the number of computer science jobs, Newfoundland and Labrador needs to do a better job of educating students in computer programming if it wants to stay economically competitive with other provinces.

As of the date of print the petition had 66 signatures and needed 434 to reach its goal of 500 signatures.

“My ultimate goal is to have the Ministry of Education include computer programming course offerings as a core part of the high school curriculum, and better present computer science as a viable, exciting career option,” said Flynn. “Students currently take Career Education as a required course; why shouldn’t they be able to take a course that will actually improve their career outcome?”

To sign the petition you can go to www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/clyde-jackman-improve-computer-programming-education-in-newfoundland-and-labrador.