Ivan is responsible for navigating Infobip towards becoming a developer-centric organization through dedicated programs and initiatives.
With Apple announcing an expansion of its coding curriculum to include kindergarten-level resources, the growth of vendor-sponsored courses aimed at young coders signals the industry’s focus on ensuring a pipeline of talent. To foster a generation of future coders, the UK planted its stake firmly in the ground by making coding a compulsory part of primary and secondary curriculums back in 2014. Other countries like Singapore, Australia and UAE are following suit.
It’s no secret that our global economy is reliant on increasingly sophisticated technologies, powered by developers who use the language of code to design the platforms and apps that dominate every facet of our lives. It’s also clear that the often-cited skills shortage in technology shows little sign of catching up to our need for technologists in the time frames we want.
According to McKinsey, over 87% of organizations say they are already experiencing skills gaps or are expecting to within a few years, with the top shortages within data and IT. Over half of all European enterprises report problems hiring employees with relevant ICT skills.
Our education systems are designed to equip the next generation with the knowledge they need to contribute to, and flourish within, the future economy. Now, a debate is brewing over whether coding is the skills currency of today (and tomorrow’s job market) and whether it should be part of schools’ core curriculums.
What Do We Really Learn When We Code?
While comparisons between learning coding and languages are common, coding creates its own magic in young brains. Recent research from MIT suggests that coding actually has little in common with languages when it comes to brain function. Instead, it “activates a distributed network called the multiple demand network, which is also recruited for complex cognitive tasks.”
While it lights up similar parts of the brain used to solve math’s problems, what coding really entails is the ability to problem-solve, going beyond math to something inherently more creative.
Learning to code requires the ability to understand a problem at each stage, breaking it down into bite-size conundrums to be solved and bringing it all together in an explainable way. It can also require strong collaboration and communication skills, with many coding curriculums geared toward group problem-solving. Bringing together such a wealth of transferable skills under one timely, relevant and engaging umbrella seems like a no-brainer.
And the beauty of learning to code is that all children will gain from it. As researchers from King’s College London put it, “there is no geek gene.” With the right support and approach, children of all abilities can engage with coding.
Low Code, No Code, So Why Code?
The argument for including coding in tertiary education is strong. Not only does it deliver on the technological needs of our future workforce, but it delivers vital skills beyond the keyboard.
Some, however, are wondering if a coding curriculum is really necessary when the ideal scenario is for the next generation to work in low- or no-code environments. Using platforms that remove the need for technologists to get bogged down in lines of code allows them to build apps quickly with greater “plug and play” options. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2024, 65% of app development within organizations will be delivered through low-code and no-code software.
It’s true that when so much of workplace administration is already (or soon will be) automated, the skills that children will require in their future workplaces have changed. We may not need to teach them how to input data manually into a spreadsheet, but we do need to provide them with skills to use that data in more innovative ways. When engaged in coding, children learn so much more than lines of data input. They learn what it means to approach a problem and work through it and be rewarded with a tangible solution at the end.
Coding A Path To Career Progression
Automation in all its forms gives employees and entrepreneurs the time to ponder and innovate for the next big problem — the ability to take a high-level view of an issue is a valuable skill and one that coding frames in today’s technological context. Children learning coding now will go on to be the “citizen developers” of the future.
There is a ravenous thirst for developers and coders right now, and predictions are that this appetite will not be filled in the years to come. For young people considering their futures, a career in coding could prove attractive given the prevalence of related roles and the fact that, in the U.K. at least, their earnings could be nearly 145% higher than the national average.
In 2016, Apple’s Tim Cook spoke of coding as an essential part of modern curriculums, and while some countries are taking this on board, it is clear that where gaps exist, tech companies themselves are stepping in. From numerous edtech startups focused on coding skills to the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Barclays, there are plenty of opportunities for children to engage in coding — if they can access these programs.
Our company is also taking on the responsibility to connect the experiences of the education system and the technology industry by partnering with STEMI, a creator of industry-based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programs for schools in Croatia. To examine what the school of the future will look like, where children use technology to explore problems and create solutions for the local community, we will assist STEMI in its artificial intelligence (AI) program. Children will use Infobip’s AI chatbot building platform to learn how the technology works and how it can communicate in the same way as humans, helping develop coding and developer skills we know are in vast demand today and will be in even higher demand in the years to come.
Including coding in curriculums is a step toward democratizing the opportunities such an amazing skill can deliver. If we want our children to flourish in a tech-enabled future, coding really is the best place to start.