Coding is fast becoming a life-skill

date: 28 April 2014
reading time: 3 min

The inexorable rise of mobile apps continues apace. Research firm AppNation says we are downloading five new apps every month and we are using many more, for booking taxis and ordering take-away to monthly budgeting and improving our fitness.

The inexorable rise of mobile apps continues apace. Research firm AppNation says we are downloading five new apps every month and we are using many more, for booking taxis and ordering take-away to monthly budgeting and improving our fitness. 

AppNation predicts that apps will generate $151 billion for the US economy by 2017 and according to the European Union, Europe is the second largest app market after the US worth €63 billion by 2018.

However with the IT skills shortages that the UK and some other EU countries are reporting, how are we going to create all these apps? It looks like demand will soon outstrip supply unless we act now to create more coders. The problem is that most people mistakenly think that to create a mobile app, you need to be an incredibly highly-skilled programmer, with very strong maths skills. The fact is that thanks to new tools, developing some types of mobile applications has become a lot simpler. As applications become a core business tool, it is vital that the executives running the business, and not just the IT department, understand the basics of coding.

If the Internet of Things is really going to take off, then coding needs to stop being a niche skill. Of course there will always be a need for specialist programmers to develop more complex software, as we do at Future Processing, but everyone else needs to know the basics, just as we can all upload images and hyperlink on blogs today. Fortunately things are already starting to change. Under the new primary school curriculum that starts this year in the UK, all children will learn to code. In ten years time, everyone entering the workforce will therefore have had some exposure to programming, demystifying it and helping it to become more of a core skill. However, ten years is a long time in a world where technology moves so fast. So what about those already in the workplace or who will be entering sooner? A host of ‘coding schools’ have sprung up, both online and in bricks and mortar classrooms. They teach teenagers, after school, to programme and they also teach adults from the business world.

In fact lots of CEOs and politicians have been using them to lean to code, sometimes in less than twelve weeks. These schools specialise in teaching coding to non-technical people, in manageable, bite-sized chunks. Coding schools are gaining in popularity as is the view that being able to code is an important life and business skill. Combined with an increased focus on teaching programming in schools we may actually be able to meet the insatiable app demand associated with connected everything age that we are entering into. And this in turn will create greater economic output for all of us.

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