Brian Greene

@helloitsbrian

How will coding be relevant in the future?

Chances are — when the coders of today tell their grandparents what their jobs are — they get a blank face in response. Or perhaps a puzzled frown. Or a confused shake of the head. But the art of coding, or computer programming, has actually been around for longer than many people think.

The first computer program as such is generally thought to date back to 1843. It was in that year that the English mathematician and writer, Ada Lovelace published an algorithm, which calculated a sequence of Bernoulli numbers, designed to work on the Analytical Engine of her peer Charles Babbage. It was a complex start for a complex science and yet, over 100 years later, coding has developed a great deal. But will it continue to develop or has it seen it’s golden age? We look at the nature of coding and what the future holds for this ever-evolving technological process…

What is coding?

Put simply, coding is a way to teach a computer how to do something through specific language. In its earliest form, code looked very different to the way it looks today. Initially it was all about creating tiny holes in highly specific places on small cards, which computers would then be able to read. Then it moved onto being all zeros and ones, known as binary…

What does code look like now?

Today it looks more like standard English, though not entirely. As computer programming evolves to become more like English, it is becoming easier to learn and so more popular but also far less specialised. There’s a direct correlation between the amount that computer systems permeate our lives and the ease with which more of us can instruct them.

Currently there are a number of programming languages out there; JavaScript and HTML enable people to build websites, R and SAS are useful for handling statistics, engineers make use of AutoCAD programs, while Java, Python and C++ are more catch-all programmes used for a multitude of different tasks.

Is coding a useful qualification?

Put simply, yes. As computers become part of everyday life, it makes sense that companies are coming to rely on their own in-house computer programmers. A 2015 study found there were as many as seven million job openings in the US that required coding skills and that coding jobs are growing in number around 12% faster than the market average. This isn’t a trend that’s going away.

But isn’t coding just for the technology sector?

Not any more. It’s estimated that around half of all job openings for coders are in non-tech industries, including finance, manufacturing and healthcare. If you think about it, every company that uses computers, needs someone to instruct those computers.

Will coding always be a specialised skill then?

Not necessarily. As technology continues to develop at an incredible pace, we’ve seen enormous leaps in the way software companies are working. Put simply, they’re making coding easier, for everyone.

Bubble lets you design and host web applications without having to write code or hire a team of engineers. Zeroqode have created a one stop shop for codeless creation and Sparkster have built coding platforms that allow anyone to build software. Using a drag and drop approach that’s accessible to all of us and by defining logic in plain English, Sparkster are delivering the ability to code without the need for rigorous study or expensive training.

This type of software is pretty revolutionary within the industry. Giving everyone the opportunity to code — not just the highly paid 1% who are familiar with the cryptic language of coding — is bound to disrupt things. For some individuals keeping coding exclusive is hugely advantageous, but to the rest of us opening the technology out presents us with huge opportunities.

What is the future of coding?

While it used to be a specialised skill for mathematicians and IT graduates, coding has now become a core skill and salaries reflect how much that skill is valued by employers. Burning Glass, a US-based job market analytics firm, recently found that when a job requires coding skills the salary will reflect that, offering up to $22,000 more on average per annum.

Coding bootcamps are now popping up all over the place, with prospective job-seekers signing up in droves. And younger students will soon be on-board too. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is now launching a pilot scheme called Coding Across the Curriculum in New Hampshire. Their plan is to coach local teachers in teaching code in a bid to integrate computer science into the curriculum more effectively. This is just one example that illustrates how coding is entering the classroom. People in the know are investing in a future that prizes coding very highly.

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