Why programming isn’t a future blue-collar job
A couple nights ago, I sat in my customary spot in the Gates building, scouring through different pages on Stack Overflow looking to resolve a particularly annoying design bug. It was around 2.00 AM and I found myself desperately craving for some coffee, so I decided to go to the Au Bon Pain located on campus. As I waited, I did what any average twenty-five year old does with some free time on his hand — I logged onto Facebook to check my notification feed. In a quick few seconds, I came across this post on a friend’s timeline, about how coding would be the blue-collar job of the future.
A well-defined curriculum in Computer Science is not only heavy on programming, but is also equipped with teaching students a lot of Math and Algorithms. A major part of the curriculum is designed to introduce students to the prevalent theoretical and practical ideas and problems in the world of STEM. Not only does it teach students to write code, it teaches them to write good code. And the dearth of people lacking the ability to write decent scalable and maintainable code is the real reason why Silicon Valley employs only 8 percent of the nation’s coders.
And if we translate this into the existing paradigm, companies are trying to automate, ergo, eliminate all the *potential* blue-collar coding jobs. Yes, you can make money by writing simple websites for the local businesses in your neighborhood, and while it may be a good starting point, it would only be a fleeting stepping stone. Why — because soon everyone will be able to do that.
Learning how to program won’t guarantee that you become the next Bill Gates, but it would definitely teach you how to think. It would teach you how to learn, then unlearn, and re-learn something that you’ve never seen or heard of. And once you become an efficient problem-solver, you would always be a *potential* hire for any industry.