In a recent article Adam Popescu asks if Coding is the essential job skill of the future? [LINK]. As a technologist I’m always happy to read anything that espouses the virtues of programming but I have a slightly different view. In my opinion Coding is not an essential job skill anymore than Excel or Word. And what is “coding” anyway?
In my opinion the essential job-skill for the future is…Learning. Or rather re-learning. Learning how to learn.
In my parent’s time it was sufficient to learn a skill in your educational years – K-college and then choose a career in that field go off to work. It was generally not expected that you’d change jobs or certainly not expected that you’d change careers.
In today’s world it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll work for a number of companies in a given career and the smart-candidate expects to switch industry verticals at least 2-3 times in that time.
Furthermore there is no real single thing that defines coding. If I think about when I started out I was programming in assembler for a startup over a bakery in Rathmines (or was it Rathfarnan?) in Dublin. Nowadays I am doing something very different.
The one consistent thing in that time has been the need to learn. Many times I have landed in situations where I have known nothing about the problem space and had to learn on the job. It’s almost like a natural reflex at this point.
In my view if you want to future-proof your career, figure out how to learn. Explore your learning styles. Try different activities. Play. Learn new technologies, new tools, new industries, new business problems. You have to get comfortable with leaving your comfort zone. Be the early expert. Go out and figure something out. Work on something you’ve never worked on before. Share something with others. When you teach you learn twice. Figure it out.