Coding has become cool. Our screens are filled with fast-typing hackers, from the latest incarnation of Q in the James Bond films to the unreliable hero of Amazon's Mr Robot.
Celebrities from Ashton Kutcher to Karlie Kloss are coding ambassadors, encouraging everyone to learn how to code. But should even the technologically challenged of us take their advice?
Whatever your interests and your chosen career path, coding can be a real boost to your CV. Technology is set to become more and more of a dominant force in the workplace, and having strong digital skills will help you adapt to the change – and even benefit from it. Here are five reasons why you should definitely consider learning to code.
Don't fall behind
There's an expectation amongst employers that millennials should be tech-savvy, and if you don't meet this expectation then you could find yourself losing out to other job candidates. If you can't code, it's fair to say that you'll probably be facing off against people who can.
And this competition will only increase when Generation Z joins the workforce. If millennials are more digitally aware than the generation before them, Gen Z will be even more so; technology and the internet will have been central to their lives almost from day one. Reports suggest that they are able to multitask across 5 screens instead then the 2 typical of millennials, reflecting their immersion in the digital world.
Even if the job you're interested in is not really a tech role, being able to code can definitely boost your value as an employee, as you may be able to go above and beyond your role. This is especially useful in a start-up or small business environment, where employees are required to perform many and varied responsibilities. The more indispensable you make yourself, the better your career prospects will be.
The rise of Artificial Intelligence
At the 2016 Code Conference the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, declared that 'In five years, there's no doubt in my mind that cognitive AI will impact every decision made'. Many other speakers at the conference agreed that AI – or Artificial Intelligence – will have a significant impact on our lives over the next 20 years, including in the workplace.
It is predicted that the 'robot revolution' could result in radical job losses; in a 2013 paper, two Oxford scholars calculated that 47% of US jobs were 'at risk', and might be automated within two decades. However, it is likely that there will simultaneously be a number of jobs created, most of which will involve technology and programming.
In all likelihood, the rise of AI doesn't mean we'll all be out of our jobs, but rather that digital skills will be more important than ever, as robots join – rather than replace – the workforce. US law firm BakerHostetler, for example recently 'hired' an AI named ROSS to work conduct legal research alongside human employees. Having a better understanding of code and tech will allow you to work more effectively alongside AI colleagues.
According to research by Code.org, computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the US, are available in every single industry, and are predicted to grow at twice the rate of other jobs. Jobs are being created at a pace that the supply of trained programmers can't match, leading to a skills shortage.
These will require a serious skillset and aren't for the casual coder, but if you do switch onto this career track you'll certainly have plenty opportunities available to you.
Get digital literate
Of course, a digital career isn't for everyone, but we can all benefit from becoming computer literate. There's a lot of technological jargon that gets thrown around in most offices, and again this looks set to increase as technology becomes even more integrated into our lives.
Code is a language of its own, and being able to understand it will mean you can avoid feeling lost when everyone around you starts speaking it. So even if you only know the basics, being able to code can help you feel empowered at work.
It's not as hard as you think
Although if you want to develop your skills in a serious way it will take plenty of time and effort, one of the best things about learning to code is that you can learn it online and fit your lessons into your free time. Alternatively, there are coding boot camps and classes that you can attend.
Of course, these courses will vary greatly in terms of cost, time, and material taught. There are several different languages you can code in which have different applications. So before signing up, make sure you shop around to see which fits your needs and aims best.
Claire Kilroy is a content writer for the UK's leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their website if you're on the hunt for internships and graduate jobs in London and beyond.