The above headline is nothing new to me and others learning to code in the Atlanta-area. It’s actually the leading reason that caused me to decide to shift my focus from learning to code to bridging the gap between Atlanta’s tech community and the hundreds of potentially employable developers waiting to be called off the bench, waiting for someone to take a chance on them, just waiting to get in the game.
All to often, I find myself being apart of conversations where either project leaders or newbies are complaining about the state of the developer job market here. Having now placed myself in the position of bridge builder, I have a unique advantage of being able to see both sides. Organizational leaders who need developers to move their projects forward are either looking for the Holy Grail — a SENIOR DEVELOPER or don’t see the value in hiring someone with less experience or the newbie can’t get anyone to see past the skills they don’t have.
Well let’s be honest, EVERY senior developer who WANTS a job HAS a job. Now what?
Do we continue to look past the talent pool that’s in front of our faces and complain or do we become proactive and develop effective strategies for quickly leveling up the hoards of newbies willing to work hard for you, some even at little to no cost just to gain valuable work experience?
I am an educator at heart and we know that our students will never learn and appreciate great literature if we don’t first teach them to read. Learning to read is a process. You start with letters, then words, then sentences, and then paragraphs. All the while we are testing for comprehension, otherwise students are just reading words with no understanding of their meaning. WE DRILL! Students are not just shown content once or twice. Mastery comes with practice, preferably under real-world conditions by having them read menus, books, traffic signs, etc. Yes, there are the rare exceptions who seem to have a gift for reading but that’s not the majority. The majority of students need practice to reach reading milestones and eventual success.
As I’ve said before, newbies need opportunities to practice their craft or we are doomed to continue to experience the effects of the wide gap in skills between those learning to code and Senior Developers. The developer community as a whole needs to commit to nurturing the crop of learners if we are ever to have the developer pipeline that is needed to solve current and future technical problems.
AND YES DEVELOPMENT TAKES TIME! But so do many of the things that we value.
Let’s see the fact that Atlanta has a “desperate” need for developers as a win for the city because it means that there’s a thriving technology community here. Let’s finds ways to invest in those individuals who want to contribute to the future of technology in Atlanta but who may not have the complete skills set today. Today’s learners are often tomorrow’s trailblazers. Let Atlanta become an example for how programmer development should be done.