There has always been a perception of programming as something that is reserved for the smartest of minds. However, with the advancement in technology over the years, that is proven wrong. Living in a world of high-tech devices and apps, the ability to code is becoming increasingly important, upgrading coding to an essential career skill.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted global economies, information technology has managed to survive much of the downturn. The core reason behind this was the increasing demand for IT service since many other sectors -including education, retail, and entertainment- were alternated to working from home. Although this news is mainly positive for IT companies, the pandemic has also taken its toll on software developers’ labor supply. More specifically, a significant reduction in expected 2021 graduation rates has been observed. The impact of labor supply shortages can negatively affect both productivity and innovation, challenging companies to find creative ways of hiring and maintaining high-skilled employees.
Under these circumstances, more opportunities come from industries seeking young people who know how to code and be part of innovative work. Considering that unemployment rates among young people (especially for the displaced populations) are a matter of great concern, it would be fairer if economic and social imbalances were eliminated, creating equal job search and learning opportunities for everyone.
Based on this idea, organizations reached and educated socially excluded members, such as refugees, on coding and new technologies. In the last few years, millions of people fled their home countries seeking refuge in Europe. Many countries, especially in the Mediterranean, didn’t have the necessary infrastructures to host the refugees, thus making their living conditions more than challenging. One of the leading suggestions for coherently adapting to these changes is by providing them with a job. However, labor market requirements make it difficult for displaced populations, in particular, to find and obtain work. Understanding the employability of vulnerable people is of great importance, as it’s the path to improve their socio-economic and political status while reducing the current unemployment rates.
First of all, action must be taken to develop the population’s education level, emphasizing the development of digital skills. The acquisition of technical skills in different programming areas has been considered an efficient way for social cohesion. Digital training for youth requires technological support, access to the internet, and knowing the rules of working with platforms in a digital environment. That doesn’t imply that facilitating access to technological equipment is enough to obtain the necessary knowledge. Digital training also means access to guiding young people on how to use technology in order to develop personally while gaining experience and self-confidence. We tend to focus on hard skills rather than the general education someone has obtained most of the time. However, coding needs creativity, persistence, analytical thinking skills, and personal characteristics gained through education and occupation.
On a final note, the currently established practices on non-formal computer programming are certainly a big step forward in accepting and overcoming our social barriers. However, we must consider that the displaced populations are complex ones, and the solution requires finding a balance between preserving their differences and making good use of their abilities. As employability is an indicator of well-being, teaching coding and digital skills to youth provides them with the opportunity of knowledge and autonomy while responding to the emerging demand in the job market.
- Gabriela Neagu et al., (2021), How Digital Inlusion Increase Opportunities for Young People: Case of NEETs from Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, MDPI Journals, https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/14/7894
- Lucia I. Llinares-Insa et al., (2020), Well-Being without Employment? Promoting the Employability of Refugees, MDPI Journals, https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/21/7775
- Travis Breaux and Jennifer Moritz, (2021), The 2021 Software Developer Shortage is Coming, Viewpoint,https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2021/7/253461-the-2021-software-developer-shortage-is-coming/fulltext