Sure, we know what you’re thinking: why learn to code? What do I look like, some dude in the shadows who hates the human touch and owns too many t-shirts? First things first. You can never own too many t-shirts.
Remember that time at Kindergarten when two-year-old-you tried your darndest to cram a square peg into a round hole? A moment of frustration, a temper tantrum, a damp-eyed assessment of the task at hand, a reevaluation of strategy, and off you toddle round the learning curve. Except for the audacious 0.01% of the population that discovers a cunning system hack – like this little nipper, who will probably rule the world one day:
The remaining 99.99% of us, however, need to refine our approach in order to thrive during playtime. Why should it be any different where grown-up skills are concerned? If there’s a mismatch, why not just put down the square peg? Not so simple, it seems; the square peg of education is battered almost beyond recognition after failing to meet the demands of hiring managers throughout Europe and throwing wide a cavernous skills deficit. Hiring managers want tech skills. Skills that most candidates don’t have. We are a nation of tech consumers and social network addicts without the ability to speak the digital languages we’re using.
The results of last month’s KPMG survey of 300 GCSE students, crafted to suss out the beliefs and aspirations of the Class of 2013, revealed them to be “entrepreneurial, ambitious and driven by a desire to be financially successful”. Which sounds hunky-dory until you find out that this cross section thought that communication and creativity were more important – even twice as important – than IT skills.
To put it into painfully simple perspective:
This is food for thought (and not the tasty kind) when we bear in mind that 1) entrepreneurship and digital savviness go hand in hand in today’s economic climate more often than not and 2) the current and persistent tech skills deficit is threatening the very future of the British economy. That may sound laughably apocalyptic, but the European Commission predicts that if things continue the way they are, there will be 900,000 unfilled tech jobs in Europe by 2015. And the heads of those island-dwellers who feel disconnected from Europe at large might turn upon hearing that the tech bubble in the UK is neither insignificant nor about to burst; six months ago there was a record level of 50,715 technology vacancies in the UK – and this number is skyrocketing thanks to companies such as Powa, who recently raised $76 million in investment and are looking to fill 200 roles in the UK alone. Boil it down: we need to learn to code.
To put it into our customary cute animal GIF perspective:
Our friend the monkey represents the employers who are desperate, just DESPERATE, for someone to pay attention to their plaintive crying out for a talent pool with relevant skills. The dog represents Generation Y, who just don’t see the appeal in bothering with anything more techy than a Twitter account. Will the two ever be reconciled?
Well, the light at the end of the tunnel is that George Osborne recently promised that all students will learn to code from September 2014. A laudable pledge, if an ambitious time frame. It is at least backed up by nice things such as lucrative bursaries and scholarships for computer science teachers-to-be, as well as a hefty injection of community-building funding. Cynics and naysayers are likely to chip in with a chorus of “too little, too late”, but at least this new chapter in education signifies a move towards this kind of symbiosis:
There has been a shift in the youth unemployment hysteria to concede that yes, there are indeed still huge numbers of candidates applying for positions within traditional graduate schemes, but it turns out that there are also oodles of jobs up for grabs for those with the right skill set.
The good news? Salary-wise, the national average for a tech role is nearly £40k. And the best news? You definitely don’t need three years of university education under your belt to learn to code. You can take matters into your own hands. Bull, horns, etcetera. We’re not necessarily saying you can teach yourself to engineer the Starship Enterprise, but easing yourself into the world of web/mobile app development is easier now than ever. Moreover, learning to code is a fluid skill which can be – and should be – bolstered by independent learning, learning-by-doing, and the support of online communities, and there is an abundance of immersive and intensive starter courses available to help you on your way.
Have a nose around the following for a tiny flavour of the total offering out there. It’s literally never been easier:
- Code Academy – teach yourself the basics online
- Makers Academy – intensive 12-week contact course
- Code First – ladies, this means you
- Coursera – structured online learning with universities, for beautiful free
In short: there are opportunities are available in all shapes and sizes to fit your schedule and how much/little time/money you have to spend. Go on. Put down the square peg.
All pumped up and ready to code? Amazing tech jobs are at your fingertips.
By Corissa Nunn, European Development at Enternships