Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding

Unlocking a ‘gatekept’ field: How National Coding Week is the key to a united future

Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding, women in tech

The term ‘gatekeeping’ has risen in popularity over the last several years. For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to ‘the activity of trying to control who gets particular resources, power, or opportunities, and who does not’.

Whilst the use of this word exists predominantly within the cultural and media industries, it too encompasses how coding has historically been treated.

For years coding has existed as an ‘exclusive club’ with members adopting their own languages, tools, and jokes (the coding language python was named after the British comedy group rather than a snake). Whilst the community is friendly once you have initiated within, these factors can act as a steep hurdle to those looking to enter the field with many asking, is it too late for me to start?

This is why National Coding Week is so important. The event seeks to raise awareness about the opportunities of coding and provide the push to encourage those interested in code to start learning. In technical terms, the barrier to entry is simply a laptop or computer – making this one of the most accessible skills and hobbies to learn. The focus of our industry going forward should be to break down the cultural and perceived barriers so that coding can gain from the benefits that a diverse community can bring.

To do this, WeAreTheCity spoke to 6 experts about how coding can be used to benefit society and gather their explanations as to why this skill is so important for anybody to learn.

“Hello, World”

It is widely considered that coding is an incredibly valuable skill for people to learn regardless of age, gender, race, or career. What sets coding apart from other skills is the nearly limitless possibilities that someone armed with the knowledge of coding can achieve. Learning to code can also be an exercise in personal development, teaching those who take the plunge transferable skills and converting them into better business leaders.

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Oleksandr MaidaniukSpeaking to Intellias’ VP of Technology, Oleksandr Maidaniuk: “Learning to code taught me valuable transferable skills like problem-solving and creative thinking, providing me with the foundation to grow within the technology industry. As business leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have shown, understanding code and acquiring the accompanying skills can help people to excel within the industry and become future business leaders.

“In the digital transformation era, coding is vital not only for developers but also for analysts and designers who can benefit from applying knowledge of coding to industry-specific challenges, strategies and product development”, Maidanuik explained. “With remote working, there is a need for better cross-team collaboration and coding skills play an important role. As groups come together armed with the depth of knowledge coding provides, they can communicate more effectively, produce better products and services, and more effectively address the key challenges facing society today”.

“There’s a lot of debate about whether coding is a creative activity. For me and the organisers of National Coding Week, there’s absolutely no doubt that it is. Of course, there are mathematical and logical components. But you could argue the same is true of writing music”, detailed Hugh Scantlebury, CEO & Founder of Aqilla. “I think writing code is actually very similar to writing music. At its best, it builds confidence, gives people a voice and a platform, and has the potential to enrich wider society”.

There are 10 kinds of people. Those who know binary and those who do not

So there are plenty of benefits for the individual learning code, but how is the industry viewing the importance of code? To companies in the tech industry, it’s about as important as that first cup of java.

Matt Rider“In 2022, employees with coding skills are now essential personnel in the modern enterprise. Good coders have unique skill sets. Yes, they’re technical, but they are also creative, innovative, and incredibly good problem solvers”, began Matt Rider, VP of Security Engineering EMEA at Exabeam. “Innovations such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Blockchain, machine learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR), Cryptocurrency etc., are only becoming more prevalent in our digital age. We need more people with the skills to manage these evolving technologies”.

Skillsoft’s GM of Technology & Development, Michael Yoo confirmed: “The rate of technological change is outpacing organisations’ ability to upskill and reskill their workforce, leaving a dire need for new skills across disciplines like programming, Michael Yoodata analytics and cybersecurity”. Yoo went on to explain how companies can work to bridge the growing skills gap. “Organisations should consider using an affordable, immersive practice environment that enables learning without risks. With this in mind, Skillsoft integrated Codecademy content into its Percipio platform to give organisations access to a self-paced interactive learning environment”.

Hitting F5 on the industry norm

As these industry experts have explained, there is a huge opportunity for individuals wanting to learn code and equally great demand from companies wanting these new skills integrated into their business practices. Despite this, there is still a cultural view of coding that has been inadvertently gatekept by those within this secretive industry. National Coding Week takes the time to question and break down this brand image and encourage those hesitant to dive into the ocean of possibilities regardless of age, gender, race, or experience.

And business leaders agree. Skillsoft’s Yoo explained why National Coding Week is an important time to push for diversity. “With the chasm between the demand and reality for technical skills hindering organisational growth across industries, National Coding Week is the perfect opportunity to help bridge this gap. From mandatory coding lessons in schools to initiatives such as Code First Girls, there are many opportunities to develop digital skills early on and within the current workforce.”

In addition, the industry is facing a growing skills gap with technological innovations outpacing the industry’s current talent and training programs. Exabeam’s Ryder adds, “we need more people with the skills to manage these evolving technologies. National Coding Week is a great platform to highlight the importance of coding education; more should be done to help students – from pre-school through to tertiary education – as well as those already in the workplace to learn and develop these high-priority skills.

“At Exabeam, we have a huge focus on training up the next generation of tech geniuses. We recently launched Exabeam Cyberversity EMEA, an interactive educational experience aimed at increasing diversity and closing the skills gap in the cybersecurity industry. Participants, including students, recent graduates, and those curious about a career in cybersecurity, are all given the chance to learn from Exabeam security experts and other established industry professionals”.

Whilst technically only seven days, perhaps National Coding Week can be the key to unlocking this previously gatekept field and encouraging people regardless of their status to enter the industry and say “Hello, world”.


Happy business people clapping in the conference room, IT Pro Day

Sharing our thanks this IT Pro Day

Happy business people clapping in the conference room

IT Pro Day celebrates the tech whizzes who keep the wheels spinning across the digital landscape. They are often unsung heroes that are overlooked whilst everything is running smoothly, only called upon when things go wrong.

But, they keep businesses functioning on a daily basis and it’s time we showed our appreciation.

Donnie MaccollDonnie MacColl, Director of EMEA Technical Services at HelpSystems, explains the importance of the day: “IT Pro Day celebrates not only the mentors, and trailblazers, but also the rookies of the tech world – whichever role they may play. This is where flexibility and change are at the core of what it means to be an IT Pro, as the global shortage of technical skills leads many people from other industries and professions to retrain in IT. This path is more important than ever, especially given our reliance on IT and the rapid changes happening in the world every day.”

Richard Orange, Vice President EMEA, Exabeam“IT professionals are often expected to rise to a wide array of challenges, particularly when things go wrong,” adds Richard Orange, Vice President EMEA at Exabeam. Despite this, they are also often overlooked – but they play a crucial role in keeping organisations afloat and functioning all year round. From technical to analytical operations, IT specialists are responsible for so many essential aspects of IT systems used by companies and consumers every day. This includes functions such as designing and building technical controls, maintaining technology systems, carefully handling data, and ensuring compliance with privacy legislation. It can be a tedious and difficult role, so it is important to consider and celebrate the work of IT pros not just on IT Pro Day – but every day.”

Constantly adapting 

It is undeniable that the ways in which we work and operate have changed hugely in the last couple of years. We have IT professionals to thank for making it such a seamless process.

As Simon Gould, Chief Product Officer at Totalmobile, recognises: “As many organisations and employees continue to get to grips with new hybrid working styles, IT professionals face the challenge of managing the technologies that allow for a flexible workforce on a large scale. Over the last few years, they’ve gone above and beyond expectations, keeping colleagues connected throughout the pandemic and the return to the office – often working long hours and going without holiday leave to ensure that their organisation continues to run smoothly.”

“In today’s digital age, the majority of organisations are undergoing almost constant change – whether it’s managing a hybrid workforce or keeping up with the latest digital transformation trends,” agrees Terry Storrar, Managing Director of Leaseweb UK.

Showing appreciation

Warwick TaylorSo, how can organisations thank their IT professionals for their constant hard work and show them just how much they are appreciated? As Warwick Taylor, Global Head of IT Operations at Cubic Transportation Systems, suggests, “this IT Pro Day, we should acknowledge all the work our IT professionals do and think of ways we can make their life easier. For example, knowledge management and collaboration platforms are now more important than ever to ensure timely resolution to complex technical problems that span a range of specialist areas. Investing in these tools is key to alleviating the burden on our IT teams in the post-pandemic era, where adaptability is mission critical.”

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Michael Yoo, GM of Technology & Development at Skillsoft, recommends investing in training and development because continuous Michael Yooupskilling helps IT pros stay ahead in a constantly evolving sector.

“Due to the nature of the role, training must be varied — from on-the-job training integrated into the work day to official IT certifications. For example, Skillsoft’s Cybersecurity Career Journeys offers employees a clear and structured way to build skills: combining learning science with expert content to increase information retention and on-the-job application of new skills. A prescriptive path to certification and skill development can be particularly helpful in getting IT pros up to speed when the hiring market makes it impossible to recruit candidates with all the required skills to do their job effectively. Learning opportunities also help keep IT pros engaged, boosting retention in today’s competitive job market. It is an intelligent investment that will help IT pros feel valued while providing a strong skills foundation for today’s digital enterprises.”

Craig Fulton“Automation software can help alleviate these pressures, allowing them to rise to the occasion,” adds Craig Fulton, Chief Customer Officer at ConnectWise. “Using a PSA solution to automate workflows not only improves IT teams’ productivity, it also enhances the customer experience by clarifying accountability and giving clients a more effective way to communicate with your teams. When looking to minimise chaos and drive efficiency, many MSPs are turning to remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools to make it easier to deal with complex IT environments that span traditional offices and less-secure work from home setups. These can help ease the pressure on IT pros by proactively monitoring to prevent problems and automatically fixing common issues by scripting basic tasks and documenting the results.”

He continues: “Integrated toolsets can also help IT pros keep up with demands. With all tools and systems used to support clients integrated into a single place, they are able to work quickly, provide reliable and consistent services, and keep the customer productive. As the world shifts into a new era of work driven by accelerated digital transformation, supporting and equipping IT pros in this ever-changing environment should be mission critical.”

Chris RogersChristopher Rogers, Technology Evangelist at Zerto, a Hewlett Packard company, agrees that it is crucial for organisations to “invest in the tools to help them with their tasks – for example, Continuous Data Protection (CDP). In doing this, IT teams will be able to get things up and running quickly when something goes wrong, limiting downtime and restoring operations in a matter of seconds or minutes, rather than days or weeks.”

In summary, Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla, reminds us that IT professionals are “the people who keep our networks up and running, rain or shine. We simply would not be able to work without them.”

To conclude, Scantlebury shares his “thanks to these often-unsung heroes” and encourages “everyone else to do the same this IT Pro Day.”