A modern labour force consists of many people with different personalities, different traits and different skillsets. But even though people possess different skillsets, there are still some things people must have in common in order for the economy to go around. A common language is one of those things.
Career path as supply and demand
Lately, there has been a lot of attention on programming skills. If you are young and about to enter the work force, most experts would recommend you to learn how to program. Politicians are discussing whether or not they should introduce a new subject in school, where pupils can learn about information technology and gain fundamental programming skills. I am an economist, and the way I look at a career path is that you should look at what the market demands in order to find out what people are willing and able to pay you to do. You should also evaluate your own skills, your interests and strengths, in order to realize what you are willing and able to do. Then, you should pick the career path that is likely to pay you the highest “profit” (the highest lifetime earnings). Of course, this is much easier said than done. What the market demands might change rapidly, no one knows the demand for IT-experts in 10-15 years. Besides, you have to make a choice of career that you are going to be satisfied with for many years. Simply choosing the career path that gives the highest wages might not be optimal if it means that you are going to have to do something that you hate every single day over the next 40 years. So it is obvious that not everyone should become a computer scientist.
Today we cannot imagine what it’s like not to be able to communicate with other people, but tomorrow we won’t be able to imagine what it’s like not to be able to communicate with computers.
Programming is like a language
Consider not having a language. Communication would be impossible. You would not be able to express your wants, your needs, your opinions etc. You would be in total isolation. How are you going to get a girlfriend or boyfriend if you cannot communicate with another human being? How are you going to tell a doctor what’s the matter with you if you are not able to express and describe your pain and where the pain is? Difficult, right? So even if you were not a huge fan of those Norwegian or English grammar lessons in school, you do realize that it is quite important. In fact, it is impossible to imagine a work day without using language. And even though you can use your language, you might not be interested in studying language university or college level. It is the same thing with programming. Learning how to program is like learning how to communicate with a computer and computers are used absolutely everywhere and for everything. Teachers need to use computers, nurses need to use computers, engineers and economists need to use computers. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a sector of the economy in which computers are not used. If we are to be part of the new digital workday, we need to be able to communicate to these computers. Today we cannot imagine what it’s like not to be able to communicate with other people, but tomorrow we won’t be able to imagine what it’s like not to be able to communicate with computers. Even though we might not want to do a degree in computer science, we should learn how to use programming effectively in our chosen career.