National Coding Week: Comments from the experts

National coding week - two developers analysing code

National Coding Week is a volunteer-led organisation founded in 2014. It aims to help build people’s confidence and skills by encouraging volunteers to run fun and engaging digital events.

To celebrate National Coding Week, we’ve sourced comments from some inspirational individuals in the tech sector. These bite-sized nuggets of wisdom come from game-changing female leaders in tech, passionate CTO’s and VP’s of reputable, well-known companies trusted by the worlds largest brands, and more.

Hannah Alexander, Graduate Data Scientist at Mango Solutions:

“Data science is such a rapidly developing field that it is easy to feel at the forefront of innovation. It is applicable in a vast variety of areas, so there is always something exciting developing and to contribute towards.

“Code underpins our everyday lives, from taking the train to work to flicking through Instagram. However, very few people understand how this works. By learning how to code, you get a better understanding of the modern world! Code can be applied to any workplace. Menial tasks can be automated, tasks can be undertaken more efficiently, and you can become a more valuable member of the workforce.

“Unfortunately, I think there is a misconception amongst the younger generation that working with code or in STEM is dull, when in reality it’s anything but. The boring office worker stereotype should be broken by showcasing the exciting opportunities these jobs can provide, such as travel, global events and the opportunity to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global:

“Coding is and will remain a skill for everyone to learn, it’s not just for the male part of our population. In fact, Ada Lovelace is still remembered today as the world’s first computer programmer. When it comes to coding and programming, technical accuracy and creativity marry well together. Coders support organisations across various industries from healthcare and manufacturing to cybersecurity. With a notable rise in cyber attacks, exacerbated by the global pandemic, the latter is absolutely vital. Those able to analyse their company’s IT infrastructure for potential vulnerabilities due to their skillset, will be in high demand.

“National Coding Week is an opportunity to shine a light on how important, and how much fun, it is to learn to code and take an interest in technology as the world around us constantly evolves. With various coding platforms and language courses available for both younger and older learners, you can start learning to code at any age. With the digital skills gap growing, it’s crucial that schools and universities support their students in learning to code to help widen future pools of developers.”

Jeff Keyes, VP of Products at Plutora:

“If you didn’t realise how much businesses rely on software before the coronavirus pandemic started, you know now. With so many people working remotely, organisations are more dependent than ever on software that keeps the team on the same page and keeps the business operating smoothly. However, none of that can be accomplished without skilled development teams that are supported by strong and fluent coders. Just like a house needs a sturdy foundation upon which to build, an application also needs a solid foundation of well written code from developers.

“Every company–from a fresh-faced startup to a seasoned enterprise–must have a talented team of code writers who can meet the demands of the rapidly-evolving software industry and do so quickly and at scale. Coding has become the language of business, and organisations must be fluent in order to achieve success.”

Ian Rawlings, Regional VP at SumTotal Systems:

“Digital skills are constantly in demand. No matter what industry an organisation sits within, it will require IT professionals to provide continuous support through digital transformation. The challenge most businesses are faced with is the growing shortage of skilled IT professionals. In fact, research from Tech Nation has found that vacancies within the UK tech sector have risen by 36% during the summer, after the pandemic first hit, with the skills gap growing significantly.

“Comprehensive training and certification can help IT professionals stay ahead of the changing technology landscape, while at the same time validating their skills and knowledge. Coding is a core skill for IT professionals and one that can help any practitioner feel much more confident in their role. To remain competitive, every organisation should prioritise building and developing these skills in their current IT workforce, as well as searching for them in an increasingly scarce talent pool.

“Building the right foundational digital skills within the organisation can avoid the time, costs and headaches of handling IT issues when they arise. Looking inward at IT skills development is also critical for ongoing business continuity. For most organisations, the need for this is clearer than ever.”

Isabel Hutchings, Applications Engineer at Content Guru:

“As a woman working in a technical role, National Coding Week is a time for myself and probably many of my fellow female colleagues to reflect on the lack of women in the industry. It’s an issue as obvious in 2020 as it has been for many years and one that shows no signs of changing soon. Indeed, recent A-level and GCSE results showed a continued gender divide in students taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Today’s students are the foundation of tomorrow’s workforce and when it comes to encouraging girls into careers in coding and other technical job roles, the gender divide in most of these key subjects is still a telling reflection of a grass-roots issue we need to solve.

“Being an engineering graduate and now working as an applications engineer, I know first-hand how hard it can be for girls to make the decision to pursue a career in things like coding and engineering. The education system as a whole needs to do more to build not only awareness and knowledge about what coding can be as a career – but passion in the subjects more generally. Young girls are at a particularly impressionable age at school, with relatively fluid perceptions of what they want to do in the future, so it’s important to capture students’ imaginations. Unfortunately, we’re not yet getting this right. Until we expand the perception of coding in young people – particularly girls – and unlock the hidden passion in students to pursue the many opportunities this area offers, we can expect to see the same stark statistics year after year.”

Kevin Kline, Principal Program Manager at SentryOne:

“As every industry continues to become more digital, data underpins so much of the work that businesses do. Whether it’s a retail website collecting data from customers making a purchase, or the manufacturer producing these items that needs to keep track of resources coming in and products going out – data is behind it all. But the databases and applications that store and use this data don’t just appear out of thin air. An IT expert needs to start by coding the software for these, either tailoring it for a specific organisation, or developing a product to be sold on to customers as a third-party resource.

“Coding is behind our digital world, keeping all of our technology ticking over and enabling businesses to continue running, even throughout the depths of a pandemic. This Coding Week, it’s crucial to highlight the need for more coders to study the subject and enter the workforce, and this week is all about encouraging more people – whether students at school or adults looking for a career change – to see the importance of coding and consider it as their next big step.”

Martyn Fagg, CTO at Tillo:

If you’re interested in getting into coding or technology, the most important thing is to be passionate about coding, building something and taking satisfaction from what you’ve produced. There are great tools for beginners to learn the popular Python programming language, like CodeCombat and Minecraft: Pi Edition or start out by creating games and animations in Scratch (a firm favourite of my daughter, who has created over 100 projects in the last 6 months).

With a grounding in Python you can go on to build any kind of web application or get into Data Science and Machine Learning. From a grounding in Python, it is straightforward to move to another language such Java, PHP, Go or Rust – all languages have their strengths and weaknesses. At Tillo we use a range of languages including PHP (Laravel framework), JavaScript (Vue.js) and Python.

As you progress in your career there are many directions you can go in – whether you choose to be an expert in a single technology or generalist with a broader skill set – you might choose to focus on the front-end and building an amazing user experience or on the back-end, building the logic to talk to other systems or manage a database. Some software developers are moving towards DevOps engineering & Cloud tools, where they can create whole website infrastructure from code – something that would have required a lot of hardware and visits to a data centre in the past.

Being in Brighton, we’re lucky that we have two good universities that attract students from around the world. These students often want to remain in Brighton rather than moving up to London as it is a diverse and welcoming city and people love to be by the sea. Along with Tillo, there is a constantly growing number of thriving tech businesses, from web agencies, product start-ups and games developers as well as a good meetup/networking scene for those who want to continuously develop their own skills.

Bekki Barnes

With 5 years’ experience in marketing, Bekki has knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing. Bekki has worked with a wide range of brands, including local and national organisations.

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