As digital technologies continue to disrupt and transform every industry on the planet, over half of US students (58%) believe that coding skills are either equally or more valuable than foreign language skills for their career prospects.
Research commissioned by KX, a leading global software company for real-time analytics and data management, shows that among students aged 16-23, over 45% of US students can currently code or are learning at least one coding language. 35% already believe that being able to code is a core life skill. When looking more broadly at the importance of data handling and analytical skills, 42% of US students have either taken or are planning to take a course in data analytics or data science, while 30% say the same for computational intelligence. KX surveyed 2,000 students in further education aged 16-23 were in January 2022. 1,000 in the US and 1,000 in the UK.
Despite the growing importance and rising popularity of coding, 35% of US students that cannot currently code say that the primary barrier holding them back from learning is that coding is not taught at their school, highlighting the need for a greater focus on digital skills within the education system. According to the Coursera Global Skills Report 2021, the US currently ranks 35th out of 100 in data science and 30th in technology skills.
When asked how learning a coding language compares to a foreign language in terms of boosting career prospects, 39% say that speaking a foreign language and having computer programming skills are equally valuable to their careers, 30% say that foreign languages are more important and 18% say coding. Only 6% believe neither to be important. The main drivers for learning to code in the US are that it allows for better job opportunities (74%) and higher salaries (66%). Conversely, students pursuing foreign languages are doing so to increase confidence when traveling (70%) and to learn about other cultures (69%).
KX’s survey results support the findings of a recent study by Glassdoor which showed that Java Developers, Data Scientists and DevOps Engineers are some of the top jobs in the US based on employee job satisfaction, median annual base salary and the number of current job openings in the given role. “The ability to understand and apply data through code is not only an important life skill, it’s also critical for future economies,” said Daniel Baker, Head of Evangelism, KX. “Regardless of the language, coding offers many tangible benefits and builds transferable skills that develop a problem-solving mindset. We have a responsibility to build a sufficient pipeline in schools and universities, challenging governments and education bodies to modernize curriculums and ensure career guidance aligns with industry needs. Employers also need to adapt and build a culture of continuous learning.”