Girls: 6 reasons the coding world needs you
Code is the language behind all computer programs, apps and websites - it's what makes them function. Coding, or programming, is everywhere, and in everything around you. Code isn't just for computers; smartphones, tablets, Sky TV boxes, Facebook, online banking and Instagram are examples of code too. With digital technology widespread across all aspects of life, tech is transforming the UK economy and is expected to fuel economic growth, so much so that the 'digital economy' is becoming synonymous with the national economy.1 Over 1.46m people are already employed in digital industries and job growth in tech is predicted to outperform every other sector by 2020.2
But, a shortage of skilled tech workers in the UK means there are more tech jobs than people to fill them. Over one million digital technology jobs were advertised in 20142, and there are almost 30,000 tech jobs in the UK being advertised on Monster.co.uk right now. To fill demand from UK employers, 745,000 additional digital skilled workers are needed within the next two years, and 1 million by 2020.3
Why is there such a shortage of UK tech talent? Not only is there a skills gap, statistics highlight that the tech industry is dominated by men: last year women accounted for less than a fifth of the UK's IT workforce.4 Columnist and writer Caitlin Moran observed that "If 90% of coders are men, developing and owning the language of the future, women won't be part of the conversation."
So, the tech world needs you ladies. Here are six reasons you should learn to code, pronto:
1. Jobs, jobs and more jobs
With demand for tech employees already exceeding supply, and the growth of digital jobs over the next six years expected to be higher than all other occupations combined2, having digital skills means you are more likely to get a job in tech. You spend most of your time on a laptop and smartphone anyway, so why not be part of writing the code that makes them function?
Whether you have zero coding experience or you've been coding in your spare time, getting a job in tech is in reach. It doesn't matter how old you are, or what your job title is - a range of industries are eager to hire digitally skilled people. You don't need a degree in the subject and there are no formal qualifications needed so it's never been more accessible, or essential, to learn to code. There are many free online sites and resources, so give them a try and learn to code. And if you get stuck, or have a question, the collaborative nature of tech means there is a whole tech community ready to help in forums and websites dedicated to learning code.
2. Show me the money!
Working in tech can be a lucrative career. As employers look to recruit in-demand tech talent, many businesses are increasing salaries and providing additional benefits to attract candidates. As a Software Developer you can earn up to £72,000 and for Development Managers this increases to £99,250.5 Even better, the digital industry has the smallest gender pay gap; with the pay gap between men and women only 4% in digital industries compared to 19% across the UK.6
With the high demand for tech talent, many digitally skilled candidates are working in freelance and contract roles - this can enable you to get more experience and learn more tech skills as you work. Working freelance or as a contractor can mean you work fewer hours but earn a comparable amount to being employed full time. And, if you choose to start up your own business in tech, the sky's the limit for potential earnings.
3. Flexible working = freedom
Flexibility is one of the many benefits of working in the tech industry, and coding jobs can offer flexibility and independence. When you work for yourself, you have the benefit of being able to create your own schedule and working from a computer allows you to work from anywhere, at any time. Having a flexible schedule can help you manage family responsibilities and have a better work/life balance.
4. "I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal..."
Always wanted to be your own boss? Coding can help put those dreams into reality. If you've dreamed of being an entrepreneur, coding skills can help make it happen. There are over 26,000 directors aged 21 or under in the UK as the tech boom continues to propel young talent to the top of the corporate ladder.7 As technology continues to develop, an increasing number of job opportunities will be through entrepreneurship and developing new, innovative products and services using technology. Move over Mark Zuckerberg!
5. Computer says "No"
Even if you don’t want to work in code, there's every reason for you to be code literate. Why? Because it is the language of the future. If you aren’t planning a change in career, learning how to code can still be beneficial, no matter what your job title is. Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder, said "I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think." Coding encourages logical thinking and better communication - fast forward five years and coding will be a required job skill for many jobs - so being able to understand code will keep you indispensable in the future job market.
6. Coding is creative
Think you aren't the coding type? Think again. Most industries now have a digital element. Looking to be a Business Analyst, Project Manager or work in marketing or sales? Coding can benefit all of these jobs and more as industries increasingly go digital. If you already work in marketing, learning to code can make you better by helping you understand SEO and HTML, and understanding how websites and tech work will help you be a better marketer. Just by understanding how your computer operates can also mean you are more efficient through knowing how to automate or speed up processes. Some jobs will even pay more for people with coding experience.
Fashion is another example of an industry that has benefited from tech; from designing and manufacturing to marketing and e-commerce, coding is integrated across every part of the fashion industry. Amelia Humfress, Founder & CEO of Steer, started her career on the marketing team at Jimmy Choo before learning to code, swapping shoes for computers. Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter also recognised the potential in tech: "I had a lot of ideas and was watching the internet bubble grow, so I suggested to my friends who had fashion businesses that they should sell online. When they didn't get it, I thought someone had to do it."8
The gender gap: Let's do something about it, shall we?
The tech industry is one of the most exciting places to work, with unlimited opportunities, flexible working and great remuneration. You will be working on projects you enjoy, coming up with solutions using technology. But even if you don’t want to work in code it is still worth your time to learn.
However, something that is for 'everyone', like the internet, needs to reflect that. And that means being built by everyone. We cannot close the digital skills gap by ignoring 50% of the population, and nor should we. As Martha Lane Fox, Founder of Lastminute.com has said, the UK, as a nation can look to close the digital skills gap and be the "most connected, most skilled, most informed on the planet."
1 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/11104.html 2 http://www.techcityuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Tech%20Nation%202015.pdf 3 http://centreforlondon.org/this-is-for-everyone/#learning-in-east-london 4 http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/female-fuel-digital-economy 5 https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/cfn-itmcc-izs3bucket-prod-izdbms3bucket-x9xmcuenerv0/UK/2014/RobertHalf_UK_Salary-Guide-2015.pdf 6 http://techcitynews.com/2014/06/19/digital-industries-lead-the-way-in-gender-pay-gap-2/ 7 http://www.cityam.com/215890/uk-tech-boom-leads-surge-young-directors-setting-firms 8 http://thezoereport.com/women-of-style-natalie-massenet/