Can you code? Chances are, if you were taught how to use computers in school before 2013, you learnt how to use computers, but not how to write the software used on them. The result is that the UK is experiencing a digital skills gap, with a Department for Digital, culture, Media & Sport report showing 82% of all jobs in 2019 required digital skills, yet a government Policy Paper from 2021 noting that 46% of UK companies are struggling to recruit for data-based roles.

Overcoming this gap requires investment in our kids, but saving the economy isn’t the only reason why parents should get their kids coding.  In this guide, we investigate what skills a child can gain, what future career paths they can explore, what equipment is needed to start the journey in coding, and how to make coding fun.

What skills are learnt through coding?

The skills learnt through coding are highly diverse. To start, you have the coding languages themselves – being fluent in these can be a prerequisite for many jobs in technology. Beyond this, all manner of key skills are learnt too, including communication, creativity, logic, empathy, planning, abstract thinking, and attention to detail. All these benefit a huge range of other skills and proficiencies, making coding not just a benefit for wannabe programmers!

What careers are in coding?

Coding boosts all kinds of skills of benefits a spectrum of careers, but what about programming-focused jobs? Well, a knowledge of coding is crucial for high-paying and high-demand software, website, and application developers, as well as systems engineers, data analysts, and network administrators. All these roles are a crucial part of most businesses these days, and will only become more important as time goes on.

What do you need to start coding?

With the cost of living crisis biting families, you’ll be happy to know that getting your child coding doesn’t have to be expensive at all. As well as learning coding through the curriculum, there are countless extra-curricular resources available such as Code.Org, Blockly, and Scratch.

These websites and apps let kids learn for free in a fun way, and can form a good foundation for more advanced (but still simple) resources like the BBC micro:bit mini computer system, which is an inexpensive but exciting way to learn code and explore its real-world applications.

How to make coding fun

Of course, as any parent knows, if an activity isn’t fun or captivating, then kids are much more likely to move onto the next flashy thing. To keep your kids engaged, it’s important to tailor their learning to their age, interests, and skill level. Starting them off on a complicated and confusing task will immediately sap their confidence and drive, so do your research and make sure the courses and technology you’re setting them off with are interesting for them!