Why we need Coders in the Information Industry

Coding is the use of a computer programs to give instructions to computers, rather than using a computer application to carry out tasks . By writing code, a coder is able to tell a computer what should be created. Code can be written to create computer software, apps, and websites. The code instructs the computer what to display and which functions to carry out.

In today’s era of technology, there is often confusion between the terms ‘coder’, ‘computer programmer’, ‘software engineer’ and ‘software developer’. One needs to realise that these terms relate to similar general fields, but that they each carry out specific functions.

A coder is a term that was defined when groups of technophiles (those passionate about technology), who could technically create code but did not have the same knowledge and formalised structures as programmers, began to view this field as a subculture of programming . Computer programmers also execute these commands, but they carry out the act of writing code formally, and also understand the nuances of computer science and the algorithms associated with it. They often hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science, mathematics, or an information systems field . For this reason, a programmer is often known as a developer. Coding is less of the hard sciences and more to do with programming languages. Coding provides a good foundation for further study into software development.

A software engineer also designs, plans and develops software like a programmer, writing code to execute certain commands on the computer. However, an engineer’s focus is on the ‘big picture’ or the final product , and he is therefore the architect of what the programme he is building will do. A software developer is more focused on single aspects of the entire programme, therefore he or she will only develop, via advanced coding, certain functions without having to be concerned about how everything will fit together as a whole.

Why we need Coders in the Information Industry by Compuscan

How does this fit into the information industry? Businesses are increasingly relying on technology, and therefore computer code, to carry out the daily tasks that are vital to the efficiency and success of their company, particularly where information is collected and processed in order to do so. In fact, MBA students in the United States are now being taught how to code as part of their curriculum . Three leading business schools in the USA realised that non-traditional business education subjects such as coding and data analytics are the key to producing the technologically-savvy business managers that are required in today’s times.

While these universities are making admirable changes to their curricula, it is not a necessity to have an MBA or a computer science degree in the information industry. This is where the importance of learning how to code enters. As mentioned previously, a coder is a person with limited programming skills. According to Clive Thompson, a writer on digital technology, “[A high] level of expertise is rarely necessary at a [coding] job. But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling JavaScript for their local bank” .

Compuscan has fully embraced this outlook on coding, particularly since it receives, processes, analyses and reports on vast amounts of consumer and business credit information daily. Today, Compuscan is built on coding. From database management to complicated multivariate statistical analyses, coding is used. Coding is what allows companies in the information and finance industry to keep up-to-date records and to provide security.

The unfortunate problem South Africa’s information technology industry is facing, is that we have a huge shortage of coders on all levels. While high level coding is integral, even more so are the so-called “blue-collar coders”. These are the coders who manage large amounts of data, develop apps and websites, and monitor database security.

Compuscan supports the coding philosophy so much, that Chairman of the Board, Michael Jordaan, leads an initiative named Project codeX, which is aimed at training aspiring coders in South Africa. Compuscan has sponsored several students to complete the full-time apprenticeship offered by Project codeX.

Project codeX not only trains young talent as software developers, they also assist in finding funding for students, as well as placing them in entry-level positions at local partner companies after their year of studies . Anybody who has matriculated are eligible for the program, whether they are recently out of school, hold a university qualification or already have work experience. According to the project leaders, Project codeX solves two of the major challenges in South Africa, namely the mass youth unemployment problem and the enormous critical programming skills gap.

The curriculum at Project codeX is varied and relies on self-paced, mentor-led building blocks rather than formal classes. Focussing on full-stack web development, students learn various coding languages, including Ruby, Python, PHP, JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

Members of the management team at Project codeX have been thrilled to see an approximately 28% increase in female coders over the past two years. Currently, 79% of coding students are historically disadvantaged, and 38% are women who are pursuing professional careers.

There are various ways to support the coding initiative, from sponsoring a student, hiring a graduate, donating various items needed, or making a deposit into the codeX bursary fund. To find out more about supporting Project codeX, please click here.

In summary, the necessity for coders in the information industry is quite clear. While South Africa is not yet on the level that schools in the USA are, we do have various initiatives such as Project codeX for training potential coders. Technology is progressing at an exponential rate, and we no longer need to feel intimidated by it. Learning a coding language is not only limited to those who pursue a university degree in a computer-related field. Anybody can learn to become a coder.


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