With countless mentions on the news, endorsements from celebrities and the BBC offering to give away one million ‘mini computers’ to school children to assist learning, ‘Should I learn code?’ has become a serious question that all of us should consider.
Many of us already use code in everyday lives; some of us work with it as a web or software developer and some of us are learning it as a new hobby, but should we all be learning how to code? Should we be taught to code in school like we were taught how to write and how to do maths?
I feel that introducing code as a compulsory subject whilst already having ICT would be unfair to those who just don’t enjoy technology, but introducing it as a optional class in schools and college could attract a large number of young people. I myself chose to do computing at college when my intention was only to learn about code and algorithms, rather than about systems and networks.
So long as there is technology, there will be software. As more and more businesses survive the ‘startup’ period and expand, many require bespoke software to manage their staff, many require software to link to their products and all need a maintained website. So long as there’s a demand for websites, apps, databases and any other software-related products, there’ll be a demand for designers, developers and analysts amongst other roles and whilst you’ll need a range of other skills to acquire any of these jobs, code is certainly a high priority to any potential employer.
Learning code opens up opportunities for employment in one of the UK fastest growing sectors, internet and technology, which can provide employment, lowering the unemployment rate further.
For existing small businesses where cash flow can always be an issue, having someone on your team who has already taken the time to learn code means you can develop your own basic yet bespoke website at a lower cost than going to a professional agency, for example.
The Real Problem
Which code do you teach? Just teaching coding is much like going to school and being told you’re going to learn a foreign language without beforehand knowing which one. There’s HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, C, C++, C# and so many other languages that it would be impossible to teach them all just under the name ‘Code’ in a one or two-year time frame.
Rather than just encourage everyone to learn code, we should encourage people to learn ‘App Development’ or ‘Web Design’ – this is actually already available in some colleges and night schools rather than ‘you should learn code’.