Why I’m learning to code

Coding has hit the headlines a number of times in recent months as companies, educational institutions, and organizations look at the growing importance of this skill. At the big picture level, some suggest that coding is coming to almost any industry you can think of, including the public sector through groups like Code for America, making coding literacy essential. It’s a skill that’s particularly important given the rise of digital fabrication and the maker movement. From a workforce perspective, teaching young people (particularly girls and women) to code is one way of closing the gender gap in technical fields and helping the United States to fill the 1.4 million jobs in computer science estimated to exist by 2020.

This week, Americans of all ages are being encouraged to learn to code as part of Computer Science Education Week, with tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft promoting coding on their websites and through in-store lessons. President Obama even gets behind the Hour of Code initiative in this YouTube video, explaining that coding (and computer science skills in general) are necessary in the 21st Century economy.

So, I’ve decided to learn to code. I’m personally using Codecademy (which is free) to teach myself PHP. You can also check out Skillcrush and Code.org for more classes, resources and tutorials (including several one-hour classes). There are several languages to choose from, so there’s bound to be one that’s useful to you. Perhaps take an hour this week to explore how you could benefit from learning to code.