Google chairman speech 'endorses UK Skills Review'

Google chairman speech 'endorses UK Skills Review'

By Rob Crossley

August 31st 2011 at 5:38PM

Criticisms of UK education system 'reiterate proposals made on games education study'

Google chairman Eric Schmidt, one of the most influential people in global technology, is said to have echoed key proposals outlined in the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review.

Schmidt (pictured), whose CV includes advisor and donor to Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign, last week appeared highly critical of the UK’s own education system during a speech made in Edinburgh.

The content of the criticisms were, however, very much appreciated by Eidos life president Ian Livingstone and culture minister Ed Vaizey.

Livingstone has co-authored the Skills Review, a document of 20 recommendations for reshaping the education system to address the UK game industry’s so-called ‘brain-drain’. Vaizey, as well as several other MPs, have backed the paper.

"It's as though Schmidt lifted his comments straight from the Skills Review,” Livingstone told GamesIndustry.biz.

In his speech, Schmidt said he was "flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools" – a central proposal from which the Skills Review was built around.

Livingstone, who attended Schmidt’s keynote, said the Google chairman’s comments were “a ringing endorsement of the Skills Review and gives us belief and encouragement to continue even more vociferously with our campaign."

Schmidt had “bemoaned the throwing away of our heritage of computing starting with the BBC Micro in the 1980s and the BBC's broadcasting of coding for kids”, according to Livingstone’s account.

“He criticised the fact that computer science is not taught in schools and that the curriculum focuses on using software with no insight on how it is made,” Livingstone added.

The Eidos life president, who in July became the newest recipient of the Develop Legend Award, said the culture minister Ed Vaizey “will use Schmidt’s comments as a platform to boost the awareness of the Skills Review’s recommendations."

"I would hope that the lecture would help our cause to gain greater traction inside the Education Department and BIS," Livingstone added.

However, Livingstone confirmed that Education secretary Michael Gove, or any of his advisors, still has yet to make any comment on the skills study.

"It is a shame that it takes the chairman of a US multi-national to rattle the education department’s cage to get our house in order when they had been told already but didn't seem to be bothered about it."

The Government is due to issue an update on the Livingstone-Hope report next month.