Humans have created languages to communicate better. From the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians to the classical Latin of ancient Rome, languages have evolved into the recognizable languages we know today. Fast forward to the 21st century and the language that is becoming increasingly popular is that of zeros and ones, of exclamation marks. The name of that language? Code.
Are you reading this on a cell phone, tablet or computer? Did you break into a desk this morning or use a security pass to get into your building? Do you regularly talk to colleagues and clients through video conferencing? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes", you are indirectly using the code every day. Every machine or device we use depends on encryption somewhere, and with roles becoming increasingly digitized, most of us would have difficulty doing our jobs without this language.
Beyond the world of work, code is being used to change lives around the world. IBM organized a challenge in 2019 called "Call for Code" that invited developers to create technical solutions to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and forest fires, using coding in an open source environment to solve complex real-world problems. Coding is not just the future of work, it is the future of the world we live in.
According to Gartner, connected "things" (such as smart phones, tablets and watches) will far outnumber the world's population by 2020, with more than 20 billion devices expected to be in use. It makes sense, then, to try to understand the most widely used languages on the planet: our devices. Then, we can connect better, teach and improve their reach.
Code skills will help us live with technology.
It is common to think that coding is an activity reserved for technicians or mathematicians, a privilege for a few. The point is that, as the world of work changes and more roles and tasks are automated, it is worth upgrading and training for the future. According to McKinsey, artificial intelligence and automation will transform nature and workplaces. They predict that machines will be able to perform more repetitive tasks performed by humans and, as a result, some occupations will decrease or change, while others will grow.
In this same report, it is suggested that there will still be enough work for everyone (because technology will create new jobs and change others), but the workforce must adapt to these changes and learn new skills. This workforce will need to learn to coexist with increasingly capable machines, and what better way to do that than to learn the languages that control those machines? Even if a robot were to take over the manager or repetitive parts of a customer service role (freeing them to perform more valuable tasks), that technology still needs someone to write the code that feeds it. Someone to modify it and ensure continuous improvement.
This future of technology doesn't mean a death blow to the workforce: it simply emphasizes the need to learn new skills and consider where technology will play a role along with your current skill set in the next 5, 10, or 15 years. Once you know how your role can change, you can learn the skills that will keep you competitive in the job market.
Why you should learn to code, even if it's not your job
According to a PWC study, 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or retrain completely in the future. The point is that these skills are useful regardless of your current role. While coding is a highly sought-after skill for businesses of all sizes, it is also an incredibly useful life skill, especially if you are a freelancer or contractor. Not only will you be able to create your own website, but you will also be able to automate tasks that might otherwise cause considerable time loss.
Tasks such as data entry or answering easy to answer questions from a client can be turned over to software, provided it is coded correctly. Even the most basic knowledge is useful - why wait for a member of the technical team to contact you when you can make small adjustments and changes and move on to the next task quickly and efficiently?
From 2019 onwards, it has never been easier to learn how to code. It is now available to everyone. There are many free resources online, but if you want to take it to the next level, companies like Le Wagon can train you to take on multiple coding challenges in as little as three months.
The key is to learn the language of coding. Whether you are running a business or working for one, the key skills you will learn will prepare you for the future. So, the next time you think about learning a new language, immerse yourself in phrases and grammar, choose coding and communicate in the most global language.