Is coding the ‘must-have’ skill of the future?

According to digital pioneer Martha Lane Fox in her 2015 Dimbleby Lecture, the UK “will need one million people to fill the jobs in the technology sector by 2020.”

Equipping people with coding skills is central to meeting the challenge of this well-reported digital skills gap. The race is on to get the next generation geared up to code – and there’s an exciting array of new tools to aid learning.

LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 gives pre-teens the building blocks (literally) to learn coding as a hands-on experience, while the Raspberry Pi Zero is an even more accessible version of its predecessor.

School children across the country are getting to grips with C++, JavaScript, Python, Touch Develop and Blocks using BBC Micro Bit, the free, pocket-sized computer.

But until Generation Z – perhaps even Generation Alpha – enters the jobs market, an immediate skills gap remains.

Diverse opportunities

Technology, games development, film production, marketing and publishing are a few of the obvious outlets for a career in coding.

But developers are being asked to grapple with new challenges all the time.

  • Big data demands code that can harness its tremendous power.
  • Fintech (financial technology) is tasked with improving service, ensuring compliance and fighting fraud, e.g. through mobile and contactless payment, cloud security and biometric authentication.
  • Wearable technology is on the rise.
  • Healthcare and medical research are emerging as avenues in which coding has the capacity to truly change lives.

People today baulk at the thought of leaving a room without their smartphone, let alone the home. In a world in which we’re constantly connected, technology increasingly touches upon all aspects of our lives.

And for any business, engaging with customers online is a great opportunity. Investing in website UX – user experience – and taking advantage of insights gained from analytics can raise their game. Many others are yet to get online.

“Only 30 per cent of businesses in the vital small and medium enterprise sector are buying or selling online,” said Lane Fox in her speech. “Our estimates show that helping every small business understand digital would contribute £18 billion to the economy.”

Flexible skill set

Coding in 2060 may, of course, look quite different to today, but its basic principles should remain the same.

And even where coding isn’t the main purpose of a job, it may well be an essential (or desirable) aspect of the role. Simple algorithms, for example, can make the task of reporting simpler, less time-consuming and more accurate.

Even the experience of learning how to code can be beneficial. You’ll be honing your powers of analysis, nurturing your creativity and developing other transferable skills as you go.

Demand for skills is high and the routes into coding are diverse. CodeClan lets you immerse yourself in programming through an intensive 16-week coding course. And you don’t need a computer science degree to gain a place on the course.

Coding is a global language, and now’s the time to become fluent.

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