This week marks National Coding Week, which aims to help build people’s confidence and skills by encouraging volunteers to run fun and engaging digital events around the country. With the tech skills gap prevalent in the UK, this week is a fantastic opportunity to drum up passion for this much needed skill and hope to inspire people of all ages to get involved. These 13 industry experts discuss why businesses should be promoting this vital skill and why it’s important for our technological future.
Coding language = creativity
Tim Bandos, VP of Cybersecurity at Digital Guardian:
"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 type of skills are in dire need from applications for everyday life to defending organisations from cyberthreats. A few additional reasons to learn coding:
- Can turn into a highly rewarding career
- You can affect the lives of millions with your work
- Coding will improve your creativity and ability to solve problems
- You get to jam out on a keyboard all day
"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! #nationalcodingweek"
Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global:
“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.”
Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora:
“In today’s software-driven world, organisations must be able to deliver high-quality software in order to succeed and grow. Organisations can only gain this competitive advantage through quick, efficient, and quality software releases, orchestrated by development teams with strong and fluent coders. Coders are the bricklayers of the software world, and they ensure every project starts with a sturdy foundation upon which developers can build. It’s essential for every organisation – whether it’s a startup or an experienced enterprise – to retain talented coders on staff who are able to meet the demands of fluctuating software needs quickly and at scale. Coding is becoming the language of business, and every organisation needs to be able to communicate.”
Address the skills shortage
Jon Lucas, Director at Hyve Managed Hosting:
“National Coding Week is a great way to promote the importance of coding skills in our current business landscape. Yet, there continues to be a skills shortage in these key areas, and 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. Learning coding and digital skills can be the start of an exciting and fulfilling career. 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.”
Liam Butler, AVP at SumTotal:
“The IT department can be a rich source of differentiation, innovation, and competitive advantage for an organisation, but businesses are faced with a growing shortage of skilled IT Professionals. Mobile, Big Data and cloud-based architectures are creating significant challenges for the entire IT ecosystem and with scarce resources, many IT professionals may find themselves pushed into an area they are not completely confident operating in. In the face of this critical skills shortage, organisations need to be mindful of what they are asking their IT teams to do.
Comprehensive training and certification can help IT professionals stay ahead of the changing technology landscape, while at the same time validating their skills and knowledge. Effective training will not only help to avoid the time, costs, and headaches of replacing scarce resources, it also helps maintain the subtleties and nuances of the IT operations within a specific organisation – providing both continuity and consistency – while ensuring no IT Professional ever hits their point of professional failure.”
Bryan Becker, DAST Product Manager and Security Researcher at WhiteHat Security:
“With cybercrime growing globally, the demand for developers, especially those with security expertise, has grown to combat the ever-increasing threat. Fortunately in today’s world, coding accessibility has grown and it’s much easier to become a security-minded developer today. During National Coding Week, for those interested in becoming a developer, I’d encourage students 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 you 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 a part in the job market and also help combat the growing daily threat of today’s data breaches."
Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist, Co-Founder at Mango Solutions:
“In order for businesses to remain competitive, it’s important they put data science and advanced analytics at the heart of their operations and invest in the necessary skills, training and support to derive value from them. Data is being created faster than ever before, however most organisations today have so much data, it’s falling between the cracks – taking valuable insights with it. The aim of National Coding Week is to improve digital literacy among the adult population in order to fill the growing skills gap and ultimately help businesses and organisations get the most value out of data. 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.
“Businesses that build their data science capabilities will have a far greater chance of success in the information age when it comes to increasing efficiencies, optimising revenues, and providing richer experiences for clients. It’s important to deal with the culture and consistency across the organisation, which can be hard work, but is the most effective solution in comparison to having silos of analytics and data. People who build their digital skills will be rewarded both financially and in terms of personal fulfilment.”
Opening the tech sector to women
Jen Locklear, Chief Talent Officer at ConnectWise:
"This National Coding Week, businesses need to highlight the importance of women in technology by educating young women. More companies are moving to support and educate females at a younger age about their prospects within the technology industry. 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. As technology continues to infiltrate projects and daily assignments as early as elementary school, young women learn how to deploy the skills necessary to build confidence and authority within the space. Remember this when hiring recent grads who have most likely grown up around technology. 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."
Rewarding career choice
Michael Scheffler, AVP EMEA at Bitglass:
“It’s been well documented that we’re hurtling towards the 4th industrial revolution, one in which technology will be play a fundamental role. As businesses start their own bespoke digital transformation journeys, they will need people with appropriate technical skills. The challenge is that there’s a digital skills gap in our economy which, if the latest statistics are to be believed, is going to get worse before it gets better. Initiatives like National Coding Week are an important part of a long-term solution to inspire more people to become participants in the digital economy. Coding is not only fun but it could provide the foundation for a very rewarding career – one that helps companies thrive as they embrace new technologies and ways of working.”
Alan Conboy, Office of the CTO, Scale Computing:
“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 a coding skills in today’s data-driven world. Within the job market, the ability to code is powerful, and in the coming days, it will continue to push our digital world to new levels of innovation. For instance, developers today are turning to technology that can self-heal, designed to eliminate some of the familiar complexities of identifying, mitigating and correcting infrastructure problems is now being built into the design of forward-thinking companies.
The addition of machine intelligence is also growing, enabling developers to manage their workloads on a daily basis, allowing them to re-focus on tasks, which are of much greater benefit to the individuals and business overall. 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.”
Supporting technological advancements
Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint:
"We are now entering a new epoch driven by big data, semantic computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and of course, 5G. So, what does this all mean for coders? First, software developers need to be bigger continuous learners as these new technologies bring with them new programming paradigms, new open source ecosystems and new tools. Secondly, data, algorithms, neural networks and natural language processing are becoming deeply intertwined in code, requiring more end-to-end systems knowledge than ever before. For those seeking a career in technology, the need for data scientists will continue to outstrip demand as the world is currently generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day."
Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape:
“Automation is enabling businesses to get things done faster and with greater efficiency. In the case of machine learning processing, data infrastructure automation is the key to ensuring organisations are leveraging trusted data, by generating repeatable code and metadata that provides strong data governance and transparent lineage. By utilising automation in this and other ways, organisations are also able to lift the mundane and repetitive coding off of the plates of its developers and instead provide opportunities to contribute within other aspects of development that will greatly impact the bottom line and be personally rewarding."
Anu Yamunan, VP, Products at Exabeam:
“In the past several years, we have seen the emergence of a new standard of employee for the technology industry. The modern-day tech worker has to be technical, but also creative, innovative and an incredibly talented problem solver. Coders tick every single one of these boxes. As a developer, similar to a painter, they are taking a blank canvas and constructing something extraordinary out of nothing—and have to navigate any issue that comes their way. When something goes wrong with their code or the original code does not work, it is up to them to fix it as fast as possible. Employees with coding skills are now essential personnel in the modern enterprise. The demand for coding skills is already high, but as we continue to see the evolution of AI and machine learning, it will only become greater. These technologies are transforming the way we process and analyse data, which offers incredible insight to inform sales and marketing, network security teams and more. National Coding Week serves as a great platform to highlight how we need more people with these skills to manage evolving technologies.”