The answer? Depends on whom you ask.
There are some folks who say we are wasting educational time and money insisting that all children learn to code at an early age. It would be like teaching someone to drive a car by training them on a horse and buggy. We should be teaching students how technology works and how to imagine its potential applications. We should teach creativity and show children how to express themselves in digital logic – whatever that may be.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics would seem to bear out this position. According to the BLS, IT jobs will grow 12% over the next decade, except for programmers. That occupation will shrink. Programming jobs – in other words, coding – are expected to decline by 8% over the next decade.
But that’s not the whole story, say experts on the other side of the coding question, who argue that coding is necessary for many jobs, not just dedicated computer programming. Artists, designers, engineers, and scientists need to be able to write instructions to a computer as opposed to merely using established applications.
The Burning Glass study also revealed that half of all these jobs are outside of technology fields. Areas such as finance, health care, and manufacturing all need workers who can code. Furthermore, jobs that require coding skills pay an average of $22,000 more per year.
The bottom line, say coding advocates, is that coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of successfully landing a good job.