A recent report by the UK government has suggested that strengthening and supporting digital ecosystems could add an additional £41.5 billion to the economy by 2025 and support 678,000 new jobs. According to Cezary Dynak, head of Node.js at software development company STX Next, supporting data and coding skills throughout education should be a key part of the school curriculum for young people to fill the long-term skills gap.
Dynak said, “Theoretically, coding is more accessible than ever. These days, all you need is a computer and an Internet connection; these are now more common than they have ever been.
“In reality, accessibility is much more than that. The problem isn’t that young people don’t want to work in tech, it’s that they don’t present it as a viable career path in school or that they don’t know about it in the right way. Educating young people about the need for coding skills and what they can accomplish through coding is a great place to start. »
Below, Dynak outlines the key areas that need to be addressed in order to close the technical skills gap from the ground up.
1. Present a career in coding as not only viable, but exciting
Dynak said: “Jobs are in high demand and a career in coding can be lucrative, so tackling the skills shortage should start early. However, young people might not be attracted by the promise of a high salary. When introducing coding to young people, be sure to highlight its potential and what can be achieved with it.
“The potential of code is limitless. Whether it’s coding the next rover to land on Mars, perfecting the self-driving car, or creating the next viral video game. You could literally create something that changes the world and makes history.
“As the understanding of coding expands, it should also become clear that it is a constant across industries. Being able to code doesn’t mean you’re confined to a career in a tech organization.
“It shouldn’t be seen just as a viable career option, but as work that rewards creativity, collaboration and perseverance and gives people the chance to have a positive impact on the world.”
2. Early coding experiences should be visual and rewarding
Dynak: “Introduce young people to coding using visual tools like games. After a lot of hard work, the end result should be something tangible they can be proud of. For example, tools for teaching coding in primary education, such as Scratch, are useful for getting children to focus on their character’s potential in a game and avoid getting bogged down in details.
“Once hooked, young people can then be introduced to the many real-world applications of coding, such as creating tools that can track people’s health. Using tools like Raspberry Pi is a good place to start. Then, in high school, there’s room to move on to tools like the Logo programming language, which more realistically reflect a career in coding.
3. The lonely coder is an outdated stereotype
Dynak: “There’s a general perception that it’s a job you do alone and that it’s quite isolated. In reality, the best work is done as a team and most of your time is spent on a crucial part of a much larger setup.
“A key part of getting more young people interested in coding is to introduce and promote it as a collaborative career. While more granular coding skills are important, it’s essential that they are balanced with communication skills that ensure team success.
“In fact, soft skills are seen as increasingly important when it comes to hiring decisions for coding roles, so those who enjoy interacting with others are in high demand. The Global Report on CTOs from STX Next recently revealed that 53% of CTOs prioritize soft skills over hard skills.”
4. Coding is not Maths 2.0
Dynak: “Mathematics has always been a polarizing subject among young people. Introducing coding to young people as an extension of their math lessons is a quick way to make sure half the room stops listening. But a career as a coder isn’t just for students who excel in math. It’s a career that rewards skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability.
“In reality, coding shares more similarities with a language course than with math, in that it’s a skill that takes time, a lot of practice, and is ultimately incredibly rewarding. To research from software company KX showed that among students aged 16 to 23, almost half consider coding skills to be just as important as foreign language skills for future career prospects, and that 41% can write, or plan to learn to write, in at least one coding language.
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