Coding skills are considered as vital as foreign languages


Kathy Schneider, Director of Marketing – KX

February 17, 2022

As digital technologies continue to disrupt and transform every industry on the planet, nearly half of UK students believe coding skills are equally or more valuable than foreign language skills for their career prospects.

Research* shows that among students aged 16-23, 41% can write or plan to learn to write in at least one coding language. 28% already believe that the ability to code is an essential skill in life.

Looking more broadly at the importance of data processing and analytical skills, 29% of UK students have taken or plan to take a course in data analysis or data science, while 24% say the same for computer intelligence.

But, despite the growing importance and popularity of coding, 43% of students say a barrier to their learning is that it’s not taught in schools, underscoring the need for more emphasis on digital skills within the education system. And with a recent UK Government report showing that strengthening and supporting digital ecosystems could add an additional £41.5 billion to the economy by 2025 and support 678,000 new jobs, it is clear that supporting Data and coding skills throughout education should be a key priority.

Kathy Schneider, Director of Marketing at KX, said: “It is encouraging to see that students in the UK consider coding and data analysis skills to be important for their future career success. With the continued digitization of nearly every industry, these skills will be fundamental to the growth and development of individuals and economies. However, the education system seems to be catching up when it comes to aligning learning and curricula with the demands of modern work. Companies have a role to play here by partnering with educational institutions and investing in training to help new hires gain the skills they need to succeed.

KX research confirms the findings of a recent Glassdoor study which showed that Java developers, data scientists and DevOps engineers are among the best jobs in the UK based on employee job satisfaction, salary median annual base and the number of current vacancies in the given role.

Daniel Baker, Head of Evangelism at KX: “The ability to understand and apply data through code is not only an important life skill, it is also essential for future savings. Regardless of the language, coding offers many tangible benefits and builds transferable skills that develop a problem-solving mindset. We have a responsibility to create a sufficient pipeline in schools and universities, asking governments and education bodies to modernize curricula and ensure career guidance matches industry needs. Employers must also adapt and create a culture of continuous learning.

When asked how learning a coding language compares to a foreign language in terms of improving career prospects, almost a third of UK students (29%) say that speaking a foreign language and having computer programming skills are equally valuable for their careers, 34% say foreign languages ​​are more important and 20% say coding. Only 11% think neither is important.

The main drivers of learning to code in the UK are that it leads to better job opportunities (60%) and higher salaries (45%). Conversely, students who study foreign languages ​​do so to gain confidence when traveling (69%) and to learn about other cultures (63%).

Despite the common belief that a small percentage of the UK population can speak a second language, 69% of students say they already speak one or more languages ​​and over two-thirds (69%) say they plan to learn one – whether for the first time or to add another language to their CV.

*Research commissioned by KX
Research methodology
2,000 continuing education students aged 16-23 were surveyed in January 2022. 1,000 in the UK and 1,000 in the US.


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