Kids Coding, the Long Term View.

I’m all for teaching problem solving, logic, programming concepts and so on in schools. I’ll start with that. Getting everyone hyped up about how great a career in IT is, well I have my opinions on that but I really should keep those to myself.

There is potential for a real problem in the long term and the pictures painted aren’t all as rosy as people make out.

If It’s Repetitive It Will Be Automated

Get used to this, it’s happening at scale already. Companies will only ever be precious about the bottom line and shareholder value over the long term, that’s what companies are designed for. Now to reduce the bottom line well you want to automate whatever you can.

In the ever present search for the unicorn* company then automation is key to reducing overheads.

Everyone Must Code!

Now I’ve said this before, I don’t agree with the above statement. Not everyone must code. Teaching them the process, logic and other bits is fine with me. Being a programmer though is a choice.

What seems to be forgotten is that in some respects coding is a repetitive task, therefore can be (and is) automated. And with machine learning and deep learning what we are presented with is a case for self healing algorithms and code. I mean anyone with the time, determination and patience can put together a website in either PHP, Ruby or Python.

Clojure, that might take a little more time.

Back to the children though, what we saying is that “tech is really cool and you need to know all this to get a career later in life”. The reality could be far different. For example a child looking at Scratch now in P7 is a good 6, 7 or 8 years away from being available to the job market. So while the number of available skills is going up over the time period and a wave of programming talent is on the market, no one is talking about the potential downside.




The solid line shows the skills, the dotted line shows the potential requirement over time (in years). Now this is a simplistic view but with the rapid development of deep learning means that the requirement landscape could change dramatically. Legacy costs money to maintain, let alone the new and the funky.

While Moore’s law tells us the halving of cost while doubling of power. We’re not looking at the long tail of a career that has had once severe dip in the past after the dot com bust. Where a lake of great talent was jobless for a long time.

All Hail The New Startups!

Telling kids they could be the next Uber/Facebook/Twitter etc is all well and good, it’s not impossible and the creative process is great to do. More and more though we’re reading that doing a startup is an aside to the day job, fake it ’til you make it.

Let’s keep the 98% failure rate thing under the carpet though. And I know founders that will tell you the startup life is great and then spending a sleepless night wondering where the runway of cash is coming from so they do payroll in two months time. Not a life for every child in school, let’s be honest.

Everyone Can Be a Potential Unicorn

Very true, do a Unicorn Mask.


One response to “Kids Coding, the Long Term View.”

  1. I believe that everyone must code in school. We need more programmers and code and design are some of the few jobs that will not see massive declines due to automation. Almost every other job is out the window.

    Everyone must code in school to see if they have the aptitude. The current model of only getting those people who are interested in it and can stick out 3 years of boring lectures in university isn’t producing the best talent. But if we introduce it to everyone at an early age then w e can see if folk have the knack. I studied Maths but I’m not a mathematician. I studied English but I’m neither a literature expert nor a teacher. I studied home economics and I’m not a chef, French and German but I’m not a translator – do you see the point?

    It would be optimistic to say the programmers we are getting are the best we can get. I want to weed those people out early and yet influence serendipity.

    So yeah. Everyone must code at some point. We can differ over which jobs will be automated – but I think it’s safer being the folk resting the automakers than the people being automated out of a job. Taxis are already “dead”, waiters, hairdressers, paperwork shufflers, banking tellers, are sure to follow.

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