Prepare your graduates for today’s and tomorrow’s tech jobs—here’s how

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Prepare your graduates for today's and tomorrow’s tech jobs—here’s how

Offer coursework in in-demand languages like Python, SQL, Go, and Swift

What do data scientists, web developers, business analysts, and software engineers have in common? Each of these jobs requires the use of programming languages Python, SQL, or both. While programming Java and JavaScript have remained among the top five most requested programming languages by employers since 2015, Python and SQL have now largely uprooted Java at the top of the list.

What has enabled Python to grow so quickly?

According to Forbes, Python is more unstructured than a language like Java, making it easier to learn and use. Python’s user forgivability and versatility allow developers to use different programming styles, thus appealing to a variety of users. Python is also compatible with emerging fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Why SQL?

Unlike Python, SQL has been around for over 50 years and has remained the preferred programming language for database management. It is a universal language easily transferable to other disciplines and languages and is used by almost every organization in tech. CodeOp highlights SQL as one of the easiest programming languages to learn and states that it should be one of the first folks should study when pursuing a career in data science.

Teach Python and SQL to Prepare Students for Today’s Jobs

Programming languages Python and SQL have emerged as top skills across all technology US hubs, indicating programs should confer these skills to best prepare future graduates to meet employer demand. Demand for programming languages fluctuates and differs regionally but keeping up with and teaching the most-demanded languages will prepare your graduates for success. The table below demonstrate how demand for programming languages has changed over time in major tech hubs like San Francisco, New York, and Boston.

Programming Languages Requested in the Top Technology Hubs Nationwide
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA In January 2015 to January 2016 Java was the top requested programming language skill by employers in San Francisco, with SQL a close second. In April 2018, SQL and Python overtook Java, ultimately ending with Python as the most requested skill by employers in December 2021.
New York City-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA Between January 2015 and December 2021, SQL remained the most requested programming language in the New York City-Newark-Jersey City MSA. Java was a close second to SQL but was passed by Python in late 2020.
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA MSA Like the New York City-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA, SQL was the most requested skill for the majority of the analyzed period. However, in recent years, Python tied SQL. Notably, growing demand for R placed it fifth overall, overtaking C# by the end of 2021.
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA Starting in 2015 SQL and Java were the most requested skills, until Python overtook them both in January 2020.
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA SQL remained the dominant programming skill requested by employers between 2015 to 2021. Python emerged as the second most-requested skill in December 2021 but did not come close to over taking SQL.

Offer Coursework in Fast-Growing Languages Like Go and Swift to Prepare Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs

The top three fastest-growing programming languages are Rust, Elixir, and Go. According to HackerRank, Go is the number one language developers want to learn. Consider offering an elective in Go to meet growing demand. Notably, Python and SQL are the sixth and tenth fastest-growing programming languages in addition to being in high demand already.

Fastest Growing Programming Languages in the US
Rust 87.89%
Elixir 61.50%
Go 51.88%
Swift 34.37%
Julia 25.68%
Python 23.20%
R 23.17%
Scala 22.84%
Rexx 5.94%
SQL 5.76%

At the same time, programming languages like C are experiencing far smaller increases in demand (i.e., average annual growth of 1.58%). And languages like COBOL and Perl are falling out of favor and declining in demand. Unless taught in a particular partnership or setting that will continue to merit this investment (e.g., DC-area schools have noted some government employees still need COBOL expertise for their legacy programs), courses still teaching these languages may be ready for retirement.

Programming Languages with the Slowest Growth in the US
COBOL -1.40%
Sed -5.10%
Visual Basic -5.41%
Perl -6.07%
AWK -6.77%
X++ -6.77%
Lisp -8.13%
Visual C++ -11.80%
Visual Basic .NET -11.89%
Ajax -12.49%

Prepare for obstacles in updating coursework to meet fast-changing employer demand

Of course, in-demand tech skills evolve quickly, and it can be challenging to keep pace with changing labor market demand. Ensure your team reviews programs’ relevancy biannually through labor market and competitor data. Interview hiring managers, practitioners, and employers from leading-edge firms to understand current demand and anticipate changing skills.

Finding instructors with sufficient expertise in bleeding-edge technologies can also be a challenge. Consider expanding support for inexperienced instructors through additional training and pairing assistant instructors with a mentor to create a talent pipeline.

To best prepare graduates to meet employer demand, ensure your programs confer Python and SQL. Stand out from competitors and prepare graduates for tomorrow’s employer demand by offering electives conferring Go or Rust. Finally, stay on top of an ever-changing tech world by reviewing programs’ relevancy through labor and competitor data and referencing industry practitioners.

Are your programs designed to grow?

Use this diagnostic to assess your program planning practices and to identify areas to evaluate in support of growth goals.

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