This week marks National Coding Week, an initiative created to celebrate coding and highlight its importance in the modern world of work. The skills gap in the tech industry continues to be an issue. According to a recent European Commission study, there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020. Read on to hear from some IT professionals working to reduce the IT skills gap and why they believe National Coding week is important.

Start to code at school

Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist, Co-Founder at Mango Solutions believes “Programming and analytics are the must-have skill sets for future generations at work, and it’s vital this is embedded into our schools – I believe it’s just as important as maths or English.”

Bryan Becker, DAST Product Manager and Security Researcher at WhiteHat Security says: “With cybercrime growing globally, the demand has grown for developers, especially those with security expertise. During National Coding Week, I’d encourage those students interested in becoming a developer to dedicate themselves to a project and self-teach as a starting point.

A great place to learn the basics of programming is through online communities, such as the ‘/r/learnprogramming’ subreddit. Contributing to open source projects, even minimally, is also a great experience and gives learners the chance to work with code written by people with much more experience. For security experience, I would recommend checking out the OWASP website, the ‘/r/netsecstudents’ subreddit, or one of the many beginner challenges online. By integrating security into your developer training, it will absolutely set you apart in the job market and also help combat the growing daily threat of today’s data breaches.”

Coding is for everyone – no matter the gender

As a sector devoted to improvement and innovation, the technology industry should be at the forefront of positive change when it comes to gender equality. Estee Woods, Director of Public Sector and Public Safety Marketing at Cradlepoint, states: “According to Silicon Valley Bank’s 2019 Women in Technology Leadership report, just 56 percent of startups have at least one woman in an executive position, and only 40 percent have at least one woman on the board of directors, while 72 percent of startups have no female founders.

The continued lack of gender parity across all industries is why initiatives such as National Coding week are so important. Today, I encourage women in tech to own their voices, to value their intellect and skills, and to take an active role in their careers and organisations.”

Jen Locklear, Chief Talent Officer at ConnectWise, champions the importance of encouraging more women into technology careers too. “By supporting organisations and non-profits like Girls Who Code, you equip young women with the necessary tools and opportunities to succeed in the competitive tech industry.  To educate women already in the workforce, invest in seminars, training, and conferences that will build upon existing knowledge while also forging connections and empower them to break glass ceilings.”

Improve your creativity through coding

For Tim Bandos, VP of Cybersecurity at Digital Guardian, there are many reasons why people should embrace coding and learn new skills. “National Coding Week is an epic event that encourages all to join in and learn the fundamentals of coding; which is now more important than ever given the digital world that we live in today. Whether you’re new to coding or steadily becoming a master of the art, these skills are in dire need, from applications for everyday life to defending organisations from cyber threats.

The future of the tech industry depends on the next generation to step up and become a digital beacon! Get involved and join the movement!”

Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global says: “Events such as National Coding Week are a great opportunity to bring tech to more people, regardless of their age, and illustrate that you’re never too old or too young to learn to code. The week reminds us of the importance of keeping a balanced range of talent in the technology sector, and shines a light on the benefits of a career in coding – which will hopefully widen future pools of developers and help close the tech skills gap.

“Technical accuracy and creativity go hand in hand when it comes to coding and programming – much more than people think. It’s thanks to coding that our technology has come so far over the years and will only continue to evolve. Every day, coders create innovative apps, games and software that are helping to revolutionise a variety of industries, including healthcare, gaming and manufacturing. Their work is being used to secure our daily lives and provide solutions to some of today’s biggest problems. The industry coming together around National Coding Week exposes all these interesting facets of the job, and helps prepare people for the reality of the career.”

Code to expand your career horizons

Jon Lucas, Director at Hyve Managed Hosting advises employees to secure their future through coding: “With Brexit looming, this skills gap has the potential to become wider as the EU candidate pool reduces. We need to see more candidates with these skills in the market – from school leavers, all the way up to the top guns.

“One of the few ways that this is going to happen is to encourage students to consider a career in coding. I would urge anyone considering a future in coding to look at the massive range of options available for them to thrive in a diverse and developing industry.”

Says Alan Conboy, Office of the CTO, Scale Computing about the value of having coding skills in 2019, “We are entering a new age driven by big data, machine learning, and edge computing, so what does this mean for today’s developers? During National Coding Week, it’s important to recognise the value of coding skills in today’s data-driven world. Within the job market, the ability to code is powerful, and it will continue to push our digital world to new levels of innovation.

“With the world currently generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, for those seeking a career in technology, the need for developers will only increase, and the technologies that better equip them with the tools to succeed in their careers will continue to be embraced as well.”

What action is your organisation taking to support initiatives such as National Coding Week in an effort to close the IT skills gap?

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