There are too many future programmers
Program: Is that the future?
Those who can program are being courted by companies like never before. But does that mean everyone has to write lines of code? What is really in demand
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Carina Mentrup is working on the future in Hall 2 in Hanover. Carina is 29 and is studying English and Geography to become a teacher. She drove to the exhibition hall for a hackathon, a word created from "hack" and "marathon". Pizza boxes are on the floor, it smells of coffee and cold sweat: Even if it looks like the day after a party - nobody celebrated. Some participants have printed business cards and are looking for contacts and jobs, others prefer to tinker, experiment and build in peace. Mentrup is one of almost 100 participants. In small teams of up to six people, they want to create virtual worlds this weekend at the beginning of December - so-called virtual realities, or VR for short - and brainstorm and program.
What is Carina Mentrup, the prospective teacher, doing at a hackathon? That's right: if you start your job now and understand something about IT, your chances are good. Hardly any group is currently courting many companies as much as those graduates who have studied computer science and are interested in apps and new technologies. Because the IT market is growing faster than almost any other industry: the number of jobs subject to social insurance increased by nine percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, reports the Federal Employment Agency in its study "Labor market for academics". The industry association Bitkom even speaks of an increase of almost 20 percent in vacancies compared to the previous year.
Digitization and how it is changing companies has been talked about for years. But in the meantime this no longer only refers to Apple or Google, but also to German medium-sized companies. Today it is no longer just large software or hardware companies that need developers and programmers for new technologies, but almost every company. Even many nurseries, for example, have a website; many companies need an app or an online shop in order to remain competitive in the market.
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In 2015, the social network LinkedIn commissioned a study for which around 300 managing directors and HR professionals in Germany were surveyed. It showed that the "understanding of programming" is one of the most important competencies of employees, which will continue to gain in importance in the future.
So that also applies to business students, humanities scholars and student teachers like Carina Mentrup? Does everyone now have to learn to program with YouTube tutorials in their free time?
Companies want young talent who think digitally
At the hackathon in Hanover, you get an idea of the labor market of the future. First of all, it is confirmed that there are currently many companies that are worried about finding suitable employees. Personnel service providers such as Young Targets earn from this. And that is what makes events like this possible in the first place: The Berliners also organize hackathons and other events to which they invite those interested in IT. They can be paid for by the participating companies. In the exhibition hall in Hanover, too, traditional companies like Deutsche Bahn or the energy company Vattenfall try to find their place between rolled out sleeping bags and laptops. They send employees and pay the organizers of the hackathon several thousand euros to present their projects and distribute T-shirts with company logos. You want to find young talents who not only master commands in programming languages, but also think digitally and who want to develop projects with a lot of fun and little sleep. Carina Mentrup would like to design a virtual world for her master's thesis. Students in the lower grades should see and understand the effects that too much plastic consumption has on the world's oceans and the life of a fish.
So she proposes a digital project without being able to program it herself. And that's not even necessary here: Like the other participants, Carina pitched her idea in front of everyone at the beginning of the hackathon. She was able to win five participants for the VR app for environmental education, who will try to implement the idea with her this weekend. There are Daniel, Christian and Lukas who earn their living as freelance programmers and simply work with us for fun. There are also Joke, who is studying environmental engineering, and Martin, who is studying media and communication sciences. So only half of the group can program, but that doesn't seem important because other skills are needed: someone has to coordinate the team and collect ideas.
"I'm not a technology expert," says Carina. But she is fascinated by new technologies and has the hope that learning with virtual reality will sometimes be more exciting for children than just filling out work slips in class. Sometimes she felt strange this weekend: she still has an iPhone 4, she says with a smile.
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