Globally, the demand for coding skills is increasing at an unprecedented rate. In fact, Linkedin reported that the top 10 skills required in jobs advertised on LinkedIn were all tech related.
What is the digital tech skills gap?
The Tech Nation Report 2017 showed that the growth of digital tech jobs in the UK was more than double that of non-tech jobs between 2011 and 2015, with 85,000 new tech jobs created in just two years. UK IT staff postings also increased 10% compared to last year. In 2016 investments into digital tech companies in the UK totalled a whopping £6.8 billion, which was 50% higher than any other EU country. Despite big challenges ahead of the digital and technology sectors, mainly the uncertainty over the consequences of Brexit, the demand for digital tech jobs is increasing. Those working in the tech industry are twice as productive as other workers, and one worker in the digital sectors contributes around £103,000 per year to the economy (compared to £50,000 pounds of a non-tech worker).
The evolution of the tech industry in the UK
The tech industry has contributed £97 billion to the UK economy in 2015 alone, and has seen a 30% growth trend in their contributions to the economy over the years 2011-2015. Approximately 1.4 million digital professionals are needed over the next five years in the UK and a 39% growth in the ICT industry is predicted by 2030. This demand for talent is reflected by the fact that the salaries of tech workers in the UK are on average 40% higher than non-tech workers without software development competency, with an average salary of £50,633.
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts that 518,000 additional workers will be needed in their digital tech sector by 2022. However, this figure is three times the number of Computer Science graduates produced by British universities in the last decade – giving way to the digital tech skills gap. As the Greater London Authority identified, London, for example, requires a pipeline of highly-skilled talent in the digital sector to keep its growth and excellence at the current level. There is high demand for employees in almost all tech roles, from cyber security to cloud computing, mobile applications to big data analytics, and web development to product management. The demand is not only from industry, but also from young people, with 82% of school age people interested in making things using digital technologies.
The US tech industry
Similar trends are apparent in the United States, with Code.org estimating that there are currently 512,729 open computing jobs in the US. In another report by Trilogy Education Services, they estimated that there are 1.3 million software development jobs open in 2016. The Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that there will be 1.4 million more software development jobs than applicants who can fill them in 2020. In the US, tech jobs grew at a rate of 3% in 2015 to 6.7 million jobs, the highest growth rate year on year according to the Computing Technology Industry Association. The US government predicts that by 2018, 51% of all STEM jobs in the country will be in computer science-related fields. Based on an analysis of job postings, Indeed and Glassdoor touted tech jobs as the most lucrative with the average salary of a full-stack developer lying at $110,770.
There is a clear gap in what current coding educators provide, and what industry needs. In addition to formal coding education not meeting the demands of industry, in terms of not delivering the fast changing skill sets needed by the private sector, as well as the number of coders needed, it is increasingly becoming unaffordable for large sectors of society. The need and demand for informal education is increasing, and it is becoming clear that it is often easier to learn the skills needed to be an effective developer and land a job in the industry through online courses and project-based work experience.