For years now, digital skills have been hailed as the ‘new literacy’ – prerequisites for entering the modern workforce. At the top of the digital skills tree sits coding but just how important is this competency to the future of business?
The current digital skills gap is well documented. According to the Learning and Work Institute (LWI), less than half of employers (48%) in the UK believe that employees joining the workforce have the necessary digital skills. And this gap shows no sign of closing either as the number of young people choosing to take IT subjects as part of GCSEs, A-Levels, further education courses and apprenticeships declines, and the demand for digital solutions increases.
Businesses fear that a lack of relevant skills could affect their ability to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world. In fact, over three quarters (76%) of businesses surveyed in a report commissioned by Workskills UK said they believed a scarcity of digital skills would negatively impact their profitability.
Simultaneously, ‘low code’ or ‘no code’ solutions are gaining traction and are predicted to account for more than 65% of application development by 2024, according to leading research and advisory company, Gartner.
So where does this leave businesses today? Is coding still worthy of investment or has this once ‘essential’ skill lost its appeal in the era of ‘no code’? Intelastel investigated these issues by surveying 400 UK business leaders. Here’s what we found.
The vast majority of business directors, CEOs, founders, managers, self-employed workers and freelancers we surveyed believe that digital skills will be more, rather than less, important in the future. A significant 30% think these skills are going to be ‘somewhat more important’ and an even greater proportion (45%) say that they will be ‘a lot more important’. The majority of respondents (69%) also said that knowledge of coding will be somewhat or very important for future workers.
These statistics indicate that business leaders have a big appetite for digital talent. But is this appetite justified or does it reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the direction of technology in business?
The majority (51%) of business leaders polled described themselves as ‘somewhat digitally proficient’ and 29% said they were ‘highly digitally proficient’.
However, when asked to select the correct definition of programming, less than half (46%) of those surveyed answered correctly and almost a quarter (24%) asserted that there’s no difference between a programmer and a developer.
This lack of basic understanding might suggest that many top executives are out of touch with the realities of the digital world.
Despite the demand for tech savvy personnel, it seems many obstacles get in the way when it comes to digital upskilling and education in the workplace. Almost one fifth (19%) of the senior business executives surveyed believe that learning to code is too time consuming. Meanwhile, 46% said there’s a simple lack of awareness around coding education and 8% cited costliness as a barrier. In addition, 5% of respondents believe that coding is pointless.
When it comes to investing in coding education, many organisations simply aren’t willing to foot the bill. Almost one fifth (19%) of our survey takers said they wouldn’t pay for a coding course and only 17% said they’d pay over £150 for an individual course.
Looking at the bigger picture, many business leaders don’t feel like enough is being done at a societal level to make coding mainstream. Our research revealed that 38% of leaders believe that the government isn’t doing enough to promote coding education and 32% think that coding is inaccessible due to a lack of funding.
According to our research, digital fluency is very much in demand. However, it’s clear that there are a multitude of barriers to contend with when it comes to creating a digitally literate workforce. What role then does ‘no code’ play in this dilemma and could it be used to plug the skills gap?
Well, it appears that business leaders believe that ‘no code’ solutions have a significant part to play in business operations in the future. The majority (58%) of respondents believe organisations should be moving towards a hybrid approach of training in both coding and ‘no code’, and 17% believe that the future lies in training in ‘no code’ alone.
However, businesses cite a lack of promotion (39%) and a lack of education (26%) as reasons for not investing in ‘no code’ solutions.
When asked which areas they struggle with, 24% of business leaders reported having issues with brand awareness, while the same percentage said finding customers is difficult. Other areas of difficulty included lead generation (18%), financial planning (18%), managing workflow (17%), building email lists (16%) and scaling (14%).
Despite the apparent lack of promotion around this topic, over half (51%) of respondents could correctly identify the definition of ‘no code’. Our research also reveals that businesses owners are aware that ‘no code’ could be leveraged to benefit organisations in a number of different areas, including app and website development, social media, sales, marketing, customer communication, branding and design, and analytics.
While the appetite for digital talent shows no signs of decreasing, it seems that education alone will not be enough to keep up in an increasingly technological landscape. This is where ‘no code’ platforms come in. Not only can they bridge the gap between supply and demand, they can also help to create operational efficiencies, enhance productivity, eliminate human error and free workers up to apply their expertise in other areas of the business.
Tell us where you fall on the coding vs no code debate by joining in the conversation online using the hashtag #TheFutureOfCode.
How much do you know about coding and ‘no code’? Test your knowledge by identifying the tasks that do and don’t require coding in our quiz below.
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