Tech Education

Over Half of Students Surveyed See Coding Skills as Vital But Over a Third Lack Learning Access

A new survey by KX shows that over half of U.S. students ages 16–23 believe coding skills are as important as foreign language skills for future career prospects, yet more than a third say they lack educational access to coding programs.

In a January 2022 survey of 1,000 U.S. students commissioned by KX, a global provider for real-time analytics and data management software, 45% of U.S. students said they can currently code or are learning at least one coding language, and 35% believe that being able to code is a core life skill.

The main drivers for learning to code in the U.S., the survey showed, are that it allows for better job opportunities (74%) and higher salaries (66%).

Their expectations appear to be on the mark: In CoderPad’s December 2021 Tech Hiring Survey, responses from 14,000 developers and tech recruiters from 131 countries showed that the United States was the most lucrative country for developer jobs, where the average salary was $95,879, with almost half of those surveyed earning more than $100K.

Yet millions of tech jobs are going unfilled, particularly in the United States. Finding and recruiting coding talent has become a major HR challenge, according to jobs reports from the past year. A September 2021 analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy found over 1.2 million unique, active job postings in computer occupations such as software developer or programmer in the U.S. These job openings are across all companies, not just tech firms, NFAP executive director Stuart Anderson said: “every company needs people who have some of these skills now.”

The NFAP report noted a “significant talent gap in the United States between the demand for high-skilled technical labor and the ability of the U.S. labor force to fill that demand.”

And that demand is expected go continue growing over the next several years: The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report estimates that 97 million new digital jobs will be created globally by 2025.

Key Findings from the KX Survey

  • 58% of U.S. students see coding skills as vital as foreign language skills for future career prospects.
  • Over 45% can currently code or are learning a coding language.
  • Over half of students plan on learning a computer programming language at some point.
  • 35% of students that cannot currently code say that lack of educational access is the primary barrier holding them back from learning.
  • 42% have either taken or are planning to take a course in data analytics or data science, while 30% say the same for computational intelligence.
  • 91% said data analytics will be important for their future careers.

KX’s survey results support the findings of a recent study by Glassdoor that showed Java developers, data scientists, and DevOps engineers are some of the top jobs in the U.S. based on employee job satisfaction, median annual base salary, and the number of current job openings.

“It’s encouraging that students see coding and data analytics skills as being important to their future career success,” said KX Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Schneider. “With the continuing digitization of almost all industries, these skills will be fundamental to the growth and development of both individuals and economies. However, the education system seems to be playing catch-up when it comes to aligning learning and curriculums with the demands of modern work. There is a role here for companies to partner with educational institutions as well as invest in training to help new recruits get the skills they need to succeed.”

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About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].