The UK needs to support coders and programmers more

The UK is doing more for coders than when I was at school, but could still improve.

Ah, I remember coding at school. It was for an hour on a Thursday afternoon where we all learnt and inputted html code for a website.

I can’t quite remember what my website was for (it probably resembled drinks website Penny Juice) but I do remember enjoying it. Maybe it was the act of telling a machine to do something, rather than having teachers ordering me about!

The Penny Juice website

However, after I finished my little stint doing coding in ICT lessons back in 2005, there was no helpful follow-up course suggested to me, no further training and no guidance as to how a university would be able to take my coding to the next level. This isn’t a dig at my old school, just an issue that was symptomatic of the attitude towards tech back in 2005 – that it wasn’t that important – which was a shame.

Coding on the national curriculum is a good start

Looking back, my secondary school was ahead of the curve as coding wasn’t introduced to the national curriculum until 2014. Now, coding on the National Curriculum looks far more advanced than what I did nine years previous, as students are required how to implement algorithms and create and debug programmes.

Hopefully these kids will continue to do this for the next UK tech giant!

US is dominant, other countries ahead also

As we all know, since 2005, the US has gone on to dominate digital media and computer programmers and coders have been at the heart of it.

If such infrastructure was in place, the UK might not be suffering from the current skills gap. According to a report by, 39 per cent of UK employees believe their skill set will be redundant in the next four to five years. It’s clear that the UK needs a skills reboot, and coding could be a part of that.

I spoke to a company director this week who believed that the UK government should do much more to promote computer programming and coding in schools. ‘There are coders in Portugal and Belarus but fewer in the UK,’ he said. He said that solving this issue, if it is ever solved, will shift the trajectory of the future of business in the UK. I’m inclined to agree with him.

Companies do offer programming skills to business people who have ‘fallen behind in the digital age.’ However, learning how to build an app and code cost around £1,000 for the day. Pretty expensive. It could be so much better.

Catch up with other EU countries

There is still hope, but the UK will only catch up with Portugal and Belarus, whose programmers created hits messaging app Viber and game World of Tanks, if it invests in education and possible IT tax breaks for companies.

Whether this happens depends on how emphasis the government puts on humans in the UK being able to create instructions for computers with interesting and relevant output.

Whether IT tax breaks and more investment in education will happen is another story. But the government need to do more, or the skills gap will widen further.

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

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