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Friday, January 22, 2016

Who needs a computer science degree these days?

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"While they can’t necessarily replace a college degree, MOOCs are playing a key role in addressing the software development skills gap." notes Paul Rubens, technology journalist based in England.  

Photo: Brian Moore via Flickr

Two candidates apply for a software development position: One has a degree in computer science from a prestigious school. The other is self-taught with several years' experience under his belt.  Who one gets the job?

Of course, there's no definitive answer to this question, but it's one that CIO's are increasingly going to have to think about.

That's because more and more software developers – and very skilled and competent ones at that – are entering the job market without any degree-level training.

What's interesting is that many of the newer and in-demand languages like HTML5, JavaScript and Apple's Swift are particularly favored by self-learners, whereas programmers of more established languages like C# and Java tend to have more formal instruction.

That's according to the global Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation survey of more than 13,000 developers carried out by VisionMobile, a London-based developer research company. If found that 46 percent of Swift developers had not studied computer science at a college, and 45 percent of HTML5/JavaScript developers also fell in to that category.  In fact 29 percent of HTML5/JavaScript developers have had no training in the scripting languages at all and are completely self-taught.

By contrast, around 73 percent of Java and C# devs have computer science degrees, and about 65 percent of C and C++ devs.

The survey found that Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by the likes of Coursera, Udacity and Khan Academy are playing an important role in helping would-be developers develop skills in Swift and other languages such as Python and Ruby. Many MOOCs also offer courses in iOS and Android app development, Web development and data science.

What's notable about developers who have studied a language through a MOOC is that many of them already have bachelor's degrees of some sort or another, and many were already software developers.

"The typical Coursera learner taking a programming or other technology course has a bachelor’s degree, is currently employed, and is between 22 and 35 years of age," says Kevin Mills, a Coursera technology vertical manager.  "Among these learners, it is about an even split between those looking to begin a new career in programming versus those seeking to advance their existing programming skills."

That's echoed by Oliver Cameron, vice president of engineering and product at Udacity. He says the company sees a lot of programmers come to Udacity to learn new programming languages or gain new skills in languages they already work with.

"But we also see a lot of people in nontechnical fields like event management or art or music learning to code with Udacity and making the leap to a full-time technical job," he adds.

Related link 
Can coding bootcamps replace a computer science degree?

Source: ITNews

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