The CBC article Coding may not be all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to getting a job in the future shows an astounding lack of understanding of software development, the subject being opined on. The simplistic view of our trade as mere “coding” is a fundamental misunderstanding, equivalent of confusing an architect/engineer with a handyman. Let’s have a look:
Coding is, apparently, the new language we all need to learn. General Motors CEO Mary Barra calls coding a “core skill” that you need to learn if you want a high-paying job.
Programming is not a language. As Barra says, it’s a skill, like arithmetic.
But what if this emphasis on coding is distracting us from teaching kids about other, more important things that they’ll actually need for the jobs of the future? Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, sees this obsession with coding as the equivalent of putting all our eggs into one basket.
Just because someone learns to program, it better not mean that they don’t learn other skills. Which more important skills are not being taught?
“I’m not saying that coding isn’t important. We need lots of people who are coders. But the programs themselves that they’re learning will be obsolete in several years, so you need to have deeper computational intelligence to be successful,” said Gorbis.
Despite being an “executive director”, Gorbis is clearly clueless about software development. We don’t need “people who are coders”. We need professionals in all disciplines who can use the tools that they need to do their jobs, and in the future, that will more often include being able to write software. As for obsolescence, “learning programs” has nothing to do with programming. Of the top 10 programming languages, only C# was created in this century, and it was introduced in the year 2000. C, which was introduced in 1972, is still the second most popular language.
|Tiobe Ranking||Language||Year of Introduction|
|6||Visual Basic .NET||1991|
According to a recent IFTF report, 85 per cent of the jobs that will be around in 2030 don’t even exist now. So it’s pretty tough to plan for a future that most of us can’t even imagine.
This is all the more reason to learn new skills.
“If you think about Uber five years ago, who actually knew of a profession that was an Uber driver?” says Gorbis.
And who expects this to be a job five years from now?
The IFTF says one thing people can stop freaking out about is the idea that robots will steal our jobs. Sure, many jobs that involve rote learning and lots of repetition are in danger. But technology will create new jobs.
And those new jobs will not involve mere rote learning, and are more likely to require skills like programming.
Some of these jobs may not disappear but the nature of what is involved in the job will be changing.
Including requiring new skills like programming. For example, I have a friend who works as a paralegal. They are moving away from paper and onto electronic document management. The ability to use these systems is becoming essential to workers in this profession. Like many systems, these document management products are largely software, and someone with programming skills may be able to solve problems that those competing for the same job cannot.