The following is adapted from First Time Coders.
As a parent, you’re confronted with a myriad of choices and decisions regarding your children’s education and ways to better prepare them for the future. Computer coding should be one of your first choices.
There’s a huge demand in today’s job market for people who know how to code, and it’s more than software developers. Practically every industry today is touched in some way by coding. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently remarked that learning to code is more important than learning English as a second language, because coding allows you to “express yourself to seven billion people in the world.”
In this article, I’ll give you just a sample of the many potential career benefits of coding for your child, both within the tech industry and outside of it.
Coding in the Tech Industry
First and foremost, coding is an incredibly valuable job skill in itself. As a coder, there are many opportunities to work in the tech sector, which, at $1.6 trillion, is one of the largest components of the nation’s economy, according to Cyberstates 2018, an annual analysis of the nation’s industry published by CompTIA.
This field is also one of the fastest-growing in the world. In 2017, technology employment in the United States increased by nearly 200,000 jobs, to an estimated 11.5 million workers. The tech industry has added jobs by 200,000 each year since 2010, and is projected to increase by 626,000 by 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationally, the number of job postings associated with emerging technologies increased 27 percent year-over-year—further confirmation employers are ramping up hiring in areas such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality, and more.
The technology industry continues to be in a stage of hyper-growth, which in turn fuels the need for coders.
Coding Outside the Tech Industry
Coding is useful far beyond the tech industry. In the medical industry, robotic surgeons carry out crucial steps in many medical procedures, including knee replacement, Lasik eye surgery, and hair transplants. In architecture, designers now incorporate virtual reality into their workflows and client presentations, which allows clients to better visualize the project before it is built, make faster decisions, and be able to make design modifications earlier in the process.
Though not all students aspire to work in technology, they can still benefit from a foundation of coding skills. We see first-hand examples of this with our students at First Code Academy.
Sarah, a student who started coding at the age of eight, had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. She first started learning to code because her father signed her up for classes. As she progressed in her knowledge of coding, she uncovered the power of programming. She now wants to create her own e-fabric for her fashion line. She is also interested in creating a fashion runway with lights that can be triggered by the model’s movements.
Anna, who started coding at eight years old, is an advocate for gender equality. She created an app for her end-of-year project in sixth grade to quiz users on their gender bias. The quiz, which includes statements like, I like pink, I love Taylor Swift, and I love cars, asks the users to rate whether this person was in fact male or female. After the user answers, the quiz then reveals the answer and a real-life person which these statements described.
Brian and Brandon, best friends in high school, were always fashionably late for social gatherings because they spent so much time picking out their outfits. To address this problem, they made an app to organize their closets, plan their outfits ahead of each gathering, and even share their outfits with their friends.
A Window to the Future
As these examples show, when students learn to code, they can leverage the skill in any number of ways, as aligned with their personal interests. If technology is a canvas, coding is its paintbrush. It is where creativity meets practical job skills. Imagination is the only limit to the practical applications of coding in a wide variety of industries.
Coding is the new literacy of this generation and will be less about getting a job with Apple or Facebook. Instead, it is a necessary lens to understanding the world. Knowing the power of coding, one can imagine new possibilities to apply to their daily life, passions, and their future career.
Ultimately, coding is about solving problems. It is a tool that kids can use to achieve their purpose, whatever that might be, from fighting gender bias to saving lives in the operating room.
For more information on the benefits of coding and advice on how to teach coding to kids, you can find First Time Coders on Amazon.