Learning the language of technology is becoming increasingly important in almost every sector of the economy, including manufacturing. Software writing, or coding, is the essential skill powering app production, medtech, automation, and every iPhone and Android update on the market. Experts argue that teaching kids to code at a young age will better prepare them for the tech dependent economy the world is being built on. But how young should kids start learning computer sciences, and what are the real benefits to having kids learn to code?
How Young Can Kids Start Coding?
There is currently much debate on when is best for children to take up coding. Some argue that barriers like literacy prevent very young kids from becoming software-savvy before the first or second grade. However, with the introduction of visual-based coding languages designed specifically for pre-literate children1, it’s now possible for children as young as kindergarten age to take up the skill. Programs like Lego’s WeDo, Scratch, and Google’s Blockly and Hopscotch are examples of these kinds of visual coding programs aimed at kids.
However, not all experts agree that teaching very young children to code is beneficial for their development1. Some psychologists are wary that coding will take the place of more important developmental skills, as a result of parents’ fears for their children’s success later in life. On the other side NYU parenting expert and applied psychologist, Lawrence Balter1, doesn’t see a problem with early exposure to coding as long as it doesn’t take the place of other more essential developmental exercises. With proper balance, Balter believes that it’s possible for children to become well-prepared for potential STEM careers without sacrificing social, spatial, and other important skills learned at pre-literacy ages.
Can Coding Bridge Gender and Skills Gaps?
In addition to the skills gap in STEM fields, particularly in engineering and manufacturing technology, our economy is also experiencing a gender gap with far fewer women entering computer science and technology careers than men. According to Girls Who Code, an organization dedicated to encouraging young women and girls to pursue careers in computer science, “By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields. US graduates are on track to fill 29% of those jobs. Women are on track to fill just 3%.”2 Not only does that statistic reveal an extreme gender imbalance in computer sciences, but it also demonstrates that there are nowhere near enough US computer science professionals to fill the demand for coding skills.
Fortunately for medtech, engineering firms, and manufacturers, addressing the gender gap would simultaneously help fill empty coding jobs, creating greater gender parity in those fields as well as guiding badly needed professionals where they are most seriously needed. Psychologists, futurists, and educators are hoping that incorporating coding education into the children’s curriculum will also help interest talented young girls in STEM careers. The apparent benefits of a world where kids can code not only indicates a more stable economy, but also a more egalitarian one.
For more information on coding and the kinds of programs available to both children and adults, contact CNC Solutions. As automation professionals, we are committed to closing the skills gap in our own community, and strive to be an accessible resource of knowledge and individual advancement in Central Wisconsin.