On job boards all over the internet, opportunities for computer and software engineering jobs abound, but the employers doing the hiring are having difficulty separating the candidates who are college-educated and look good on paper and those who have the exact skills required, the Atlanta Daily World reports.
According to the news source, Mark Lassoff, who describes himself as a simple computer programming enthusiast and has started an initiative to teach coding for beginners, said one of the biggest problems is the lack of qualifications among those who seemingly would be great hires.
"American companies will post positions for jobs like developing mobile apps and video games – good, high-paying jobs with benefits – but there just aren't enough qualified computer programmers out there so, after a few weeks, they send these jobs overseas," said Lassoff, whose portfolio includes creating training programs for the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin and Discover Card Services.
To Lassoff, the soaring demand for computer and software programming skills will create opportunities for anyone who has learned to code. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programming employment is expected to rise by 12 percent through 2020, while software development jobs will surge by 30 percent in the same period. Salaries are also expected to rise, with the average salary for software engineers in 2010 nearly twice the national average already.
To prepare for this boom in demand, Lassoff has created online courses to teach programming, written books and released other instructional demos, according to the media outlet.
"People think you have to go back to school to learn programming and other computer skills, but you don't," he said. "There's also the myth that you have to be some kind of math or science genius to learn it. Not true. You just need to learn the process, and then practice it. You can build a portfolio by doing volunteer work for a church or charity."
The programming type
Lassoff stated that while computer programming training is open to anyone, there are a few groups who may be well prepared for a career in software engineering – most obviously, anyone who has bounced around from job to job within the information technology world. Whether they've had some experience in the past or currently work in IT, he said, the skills needed for such a job will come quickly. This is especially true for workers in customer service or corporate support who are looking for more career gratification and higher pay.
The more experienced job seeking generation is also ripe with the needed skills to become a coder – all it takes is motivation, curiosity and spare time to learn. According to Code.org, which was developed to spur interest in computer science, just about anyone can code at any stage in their career.
"I know seniors who learned programming later in life and they like staying stimulated and challenged, and having an in-demand skill," Lassoff added.
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the best, most ambitious programmers have been the ones who started at any early age. Anyone who has kept up with the development of web, mobile and gaming technology may be well primed for a coding career.
Even if it's just an idea that takes root and wants to grow, programming and coding could be a way to help this vision actualize. These "good idea people," as Lassoff puts it, can start a career in programming by taking a great idea and turning it into an actual mobile app or software.