Students want to learn to code, but the school system is a barrier

Nearly half of UK students see coding as equally or more valuable than foreign languages, a new study suggests.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor

Technology has transformed nearly every aspect of our daily lives, even how students view the job market. A research study conducted by KX, a UK-based software company, shows that 49% of 16-24 year olds in the UK see coding languages as being either more or equally as valuable as foreign languages skills in furthering future career prospects. 

Students' desire to code is motivated by their aspiration for better jobs. In the UK, knowing how to code allows for 60% better job opportunities and 45% higher salaries, according to the survey of 1,000 students.

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"It's encouraging that students across the UK see coding and data analytics skills as being important to their future career success," says Kathy Schneider, chief marketing officer at KX. "With the continuing digitization of almost all industries, these skills will be fundamental to the growth and development of both individuals and economies."

British students are adapting to the changing times and have taken the initiative to learn to code. Nearly one-third (29%) of British students have either taken or are planning to take a course in data analytics or data science, and 24% said the same for computational intelligence. 

The job market in the tech industry is ever-growing, especially in the face of the skill shortages that have plagued the industry. Last month, hundreds of nonprofits, universities, and tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Meta partnered with tech education non-profit Code to include opportunities to learn computer science in schools and curb the shortage.

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recent report by the UK Government found that strengthening and supporting digital ecosystems could add another £41.5bn to the economy by 2025 and support 678,000 new jobs - highlighting the importance of prioritizing data skills and coding in schools. And yet, nearly 43% of students surveyed by KX said a barrier to them learning to code was lack of access in education.

When asked how learning a coding language compares to a foreign language in terms of boosting career prospects, 29% of students said speaking a foreign language and having computer programming skills were equally valuable to their careers, while a third said that foreign languages are more important and 20% said coding. Only 11% believed neither to be important.    

"We have a responsibility to build sufficient pipeline in schools and universities, challenging governments, and education bodies to modernize curriculums and ensure career guidance aligns to industry needs. Employers also need to adapt and build a culture of continuous learning," said Daniel Baker, head of evangelism at KX. 

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