Coding (or programming) involves designing, writing, testing and maintaining computer programmes. You might wonder why this is being taught at schools but in fact, it helps children who do it to think both logically and creatively and to solve problems. Plus, it builds transferable skills for their future careers – not just for those who decide to become software developers, but for any job that requires logical reasoning, teamwork and creativity.
Tech skills open doors to all sorts of careers
The Science Council estimates that the UK's ICT workforce could grow by 39% by 2030.1 Coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across industries as an increasing number of businesses now rely on computer code. Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology, such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, while research shows coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of commanding a high salary.
Young people who do want to work in tech will have a wide range of options. Careers are remarkably varied and some of the most crucial roles still aren’t receiving enough attention. For parents with kids fascinated by security or cybercrime, for example, there are a whole raft of opportunities available.
Even if coding is completely out of your comfort zone, we have some tips on how to support your kids:
1. Be enthusiastic about coding (even if you’re not totally convinced) and try to learn some of the vocabulary associated with it. Above all, never fall into the trap of dismissing it just because it isn’t something you’ll ever need – or want – to do yourself.
2. Teach them some of the principles of coding without even going near a computer. One simple offline activity is to ask them to write a series of commands that would enable someone who is blindfolded to get from one room in their house to another. It’s a great party game that teaches coding at the same time!
3. See if there is a coding club near you – some are free and some charge for their courses. Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. Other coding clubs include CoderDojo and Fire Tech Camp.
4. Make the most of apps and software like Kodu, Hopscotch and ScratchJr. If they love playing games, imagine how much they’ll enjoy designing and building their own.
5. Check out Raspberry Pi, Kano and LEGO Mindstorms, which let you build your own minicomputer or robot.
6. Watch a computing show on CBBC together, like Technobabble
7.Ask them to think about the role computing plays in everyday life – who designs the tech they use and how does it work? Getting them to think about the magic behind their favourite apps and devices might help them imagine a wider range of career possibilities.
8. Pursuing a career in tech doesn’t mean giving up on their other passions. They can use computer skills in just about any field, so talk to them about how computing might be relevant to their interests. If they’ve always been artistic, for example, you can help them research what it takes to become a Web or graphic designer. If they’re mad about sport, let them know that some universities are now offering degrees in computing and sports studies.
1 The Science Council 2014
This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone