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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”.