This week is National Coding Week – an annual event which aims to help build people’s coding skills through engaging digital events and workshops.
With the current skills shortage in the coding industry, improving digital literacy has never been so important. With Brexit looming, this skills gap has the potential to become wider as the EU candidate pool reduces, so the technology sector needs to encourage and facilitate teaching these vital digital skills.
A learning curve
It is estimated that only 2% of the global population knows how to code, and with the growing reliance on technology, these kinds of skills are becoming more important than ever. Coding skills are not only useful in the workplace, but also nurture general life skills such as problem solving, patience and creative thinking.
We spoke to our Lead Developer, Jack Ridgway, about how learning to code shaped his career:
“Coding for me has always been about problem solving. I enjoyed maths at school, which led to me being interested in computing modules that used maths. Learning to code gives you the ability to build something exciting whilst helping businesses to improve their presence online and improving workflow internally. Coding has so many avenues to explore which makes it interesting for not just one person - you can learn User Experience by designing and building web pages in HTML or you can learn an Object-oriented language like Python to take care of common programming tasks.”
4th industrial revolution
We are entering what some people refer to as the ‘4th industrial revolution’, where disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way that we live and work. It is clear that learning to code can open up many opportunities for people’s careers, but so do the problem solving skills that can be applied to other areas of their lives.
The demand for learning coding skills is still relatively low, which is why initiatives like National Coding Week are so important to highlight not only the importance of these digital skills, but also the limitations of teaching them. If there was a high enough demand, more volunteers, teachers, course programmes and resources would be needed, which would have to be backed heavily by government funding.
There has been an upsurge in the past 5 years of women and people from underrepresented groups learning to code, with the aim to make the industry more inclusive. Mentoring initiatives and coding workshops such as Codebar encourage people to learn to code around the world, by providing safe and supportive teaching environments.
Digital learning is now at the heart of the curriculum, with pupils needing digital skills in order to be successful in their future lives.
The government invested £100m into teaching coding in schools in November 2017, of which £78m was invested in the Raspberry Pi Foundation to create a more systematic plan of teaching coding in schools. The aim is for children to learn valuable digital skills at school to encourage many to pursue a career in coding.
Most schools now teach basic programming languages in primary and secondary schools. Scratch is a popular block-based visual programming language and online community used by younger children to create their own games, programs and animations. This application shows how simple teaching the basics of coding can be, and helps children to prepare for learning more complex programming languages as they get older.
Find out more about National Coding Week and what your business can do to promote it here.