European Commission: Coding-skills are important
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Yesterday I was tuned into a popular music station for youngsters in the Netherlands. On that radio show they called the Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes. She is a well-known, highly rated, person in the Dutch politics and already for years she is a high profile European Commission member covering the Digital Agenda which includes ICT. As US regulations touch us here in Europe, you must have noticed that Windows provides you with a selection of browsers. A very visible result of her work, Kroes demanded that Microsoft decouple the Internet Explorer from the Windows operating system. Now Windows users get a choice in browsers including competitive browsers. And there are more tangible results which are not that visible in the ICT world.
Let’s get back to the interview. We are heading towards to the European-elections, so it was a call to action: “Vote, at least vote. If not, don’t criticize or mingle into the discussions!”
But in that same interview she stated “ coding is important “, “ everybody should be able to code “, “ it’s a way to express yourself and should be taught at school as any natural language! ” … Struck by that statement I gave it a second thought. Although I would like to agree with it, I placed the thought into the period of the first automobiles. I’m sure that a leader in that time could have said: “Everybody should be able to maintain/repair a car.” Some years later, welcoming the first televisions such a similar statement would have been ridiculous.
But why did she say that? What is the meaning behind it? What’s on her mind? On the EU Codeweek website you will find that the projected shortfall on ICT professionals in Europe is staggering! Should we now all start coding lessons? I hope not!
Here in the Netherlands (small country) we depend on trade with other countries. Speaking Dutch won’t support that international trade, so other languages are of the essence. At school we learn English, German, French often Spanish and sometimes even Chinese or other languages! Mastering the language will get us closer to our customers and that enables trade.
I think that similar thinking is the base of the statements. We have to get ‘coding’ into our bones, know how computers work, how software exchange information, how ICT-technology alter the business! As stated before, she covers the Digital Agenda. She speaks about how that Digital Agenda and the obtained results will impact the business. ICT is a cornerstone for international trade and growth. We have to ‘breath’ ICT, everybody.
But things change, change fast. Recently IBM announced BlueMix which gives developers a cloud-based platform to develop their code in. The platform supports a broad variety of services like databases, services and runtimes. A developer can make use of them in his code. One goal is to make it easier to combine technologies from different sources. So re-use what’s available and add your own code to complete the service or function.
Knowing all that I do agree that ICT must be taught at school like a normal language or subject. A small portion of the lessons might be covering some coding. Be aware that mastering coding does not make you a good ICT Professional and many highly skilled ICT professional can’t code! To write good requirements you need listing-skills, the architect should be able to abstract and master logic, the tester need keen eye on risk. There are so many ICT related skill which can be taught to students! You might have an advantage with some coding skills. If you end up in the business you must know how to leverage ICT and how it impacts the business. Than you will find the opportunities of tomorrow. We need you all!