We’ve already talked about Europe’s “skills gap” in the past. Despite achingly high jobless rates, employers in the EU are nevertheless struggling to find enough qualified candidates to fill positions in the high-tech sector. Some estimates suggest that Europe will face a significant shortfall of almost one million ICT professionals by 2020.
Despite this, education systems in Europe have actually registered a decline in computer science graduates since the crisis struck. Furthermore, half of all ICT students in Europe are graduating from just three countries: France, Germany and the UK.
We’ve put together some facts and figures about coding and employment in Europe in an infographic below (you can click the image for a bigger version).
What practical steps should be taken to close Europe’s skills gap? Traditionally, coding is seen as a difficult subject that you have to be a genius to understand. Obviously, this can be off-putting for prospective students, who might prefer to study something easier to learn. However, in a previous debate we had several coders tell us that coding is not that difficult a subject to learn.
Still, are there ways to make coding even easier in future? We had a question sent in from Alexis, a student from Finland, who wanted to know if “easy-to-learn” coding programs could make coding less difficult for absolute beginners.
We put this question to Simon Peyton Jones, a computer scientist and British EU Code Week Ambassador, to see how he would respond:
We also put the same question to Mercedes Diaz, an ICT consultant and EU CodeWeek Ambassador for Belgium. She says that what Alexis is talking about is not the future, because it’s here already:
However, we got a very different answer from Bastien Guerry, a French EU CodeWeek Ambassador and tech entrepreneur. He said coding will always be hard, but we shouldn’t be worried about that. He argues that children can enjoy hard challenges if they start learning a subject early enough, so we shouldn’t be too focused on making coding easier:
Finally, as we’re talking about how coding might change and develop in future, is there a chance it could be replaced entirely? We had a question along these lines sent in from by Alen from Slovenia, asking if programming could be rendered obsolete by another, perhaps completely new, skill?
We took this comment to Julie Cullen, a teacher and Irish Ambassador for EU Code Week:
I think that coding will be around for a long time. I think it’s a new literacy – it’s like reading and writing. Even though we have computers to do it for us these days, we still need to learn to read and write, and I think that’s the same for coding. It’s true that technology is developing, but I think we still need to know the basics and it’s very important that we know how to tell a computer what to do.
With employers struggling to find enough coders to fill jobs, how can more Europeans be encouraged to learn coding? Will coding become easier to learn in future, as more “easy-to-learn” coding programs are developed? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!