It’s been a groundbreaking few days for the technology sector – from a robot giving evidence to the House of Lords to Mark Zuckerberg unveiling a high-end virtual reality headset that he hopes will replace laptops, and in turn, change the way people work.
As tech continues to change the way we live at an incredible pace, it means children and young people need to change with it, says Manny Athwal, a coding expert, and founder of the UK’s biggest coding school.
In a groundbreaking hearing on Tuesday, a robot badged as the “world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist”, appeared in front of the Lords communications and digital committee as part of its inquiry into the future of the creative industries in the UK.
While, just a day later, Mark Zuckerberg announces the new Quest Pro – a £1,500 high-end virtual reality headset that he hopes will change how people work. The headset is aimed at the 200 million people who get a new PC at work every year and believes that it will one day replace those computers. Many of its features are targeted at architects, engineers and designers.
Mr Athwal, Chief Executive of West Midlands-based School of Coding, says none of these breakthroughs would have been possible without coding.
“Coding is the future. It powers our entire digital world and is a skill that for young people is increasingly becoming just as important as reading and writing. In fact, young people run the risk of being left behind if they don’t grasp an understanding of it,” he said.
An increasing skills gap
Mr Athwal fears there will be an increasing skills gap in the digital jobs market if young people are not equipped with the skills of how to code.
“There is a growing digital skills gap created by the rapid technological developments that we have seen in the last few years.
“The developments being reported in the media this week demonstrate just how much of an impact coding has on the world we live in but I’m not convinced at present that there will be enough young people out there with the skills to meet demands.”
As it stands, the Government’s Industrial Strategy Council estimates that by 2030, five million workers could lack the basic digital skills needed for the UK workforce.
“The increasing skills gap coupled up with an increasingly competitive job market means that it’s more important than ever that young people are equipped with the skills they need for the employment market,” he said.
Tackling the coding skills gap
Currently, School of Coding is offering young people in Shropshire, Wolverhampton and the Black Country the opportunity to take part in a programme of free, fully accredited coding courses.
The intensive courses are aimed at 16 to 29 year olds who are not currently in employment, education or training.
With options ranging from a three day bootcamp through to a ten-day ‘Introduction to Gaming’ course, the programme will offer a range of foundation skills that can be applied to a variety of careers in the technology sector.
The courses are designed to teach the basic fundamentals of coding from reading and writing code through to developing the skills to code in Python – the coding language used by world leading organisations including Google, Netflix and NASA. No prior knowledge of coding is required.
With the choice of completing the courses remotely or at one of School of Coding’s education centres in Telford, Shrewsbury or Wolverhampton, those who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion.
For those living outside Shropshire, Wolverhampton and the Black Country, Mr Athwal is encouraging parents to sign their child up for one of School of Coding’s free trial lessons.
He added: “I would urge parents to get their child signed up for one of our free sessions. Not only do we expect that your child will really enjoy giving coding a go but it could also spark an interest in a future career in coding.
“Coding opens doors and provides opportunities. From software design, cyber security through to gaming and so much more, the possibilities really are limitless. Without coders, firms such as Google, Apple or Microsoft wouldn’t exist, which is pretty unfathomable in today’s world.”
By Manny Athwal- CEO of School of Coding Limited UK & SOC Blended Learning Ireland