Why Your Company Should Host Coding Workshops
This winter, Apple will be hosting thousands of free coding workshops in its stores, supplementing educational initiatives both inside and outside the classroom. In these “Hour of Code” sessions, anyone who registers can learn introductory coding concepts through robotic or app-based teaching.
If you’re part of an organization or company in the tech world, the idea of hosting a coding workshop may seem intimidating or inconvenient. After all, not everyone has Apple or Microsoft resources. However, workshop hosting can lead to a vast array of benefits beyond simply doing good for the local tech community. If you think Apple is just pulling a PR stunt and doesn’t see what’s in it for them, think again.
Finding Hidden Talent
The most obvious benefit to hosting a coding workshop is the potential of finding a future employee or intern. There are so many potential talented coders in the world that may have never gotten access to the tools and resources to discover their skills.
1.4 million computing and engineering positions need to be filled by 2020, and the traditional STEM pipelines don’t end up supplying enough qualified candidates. Recruiting and hiring is expensive and unsustainable if it has to be done every few months.
A coding workshop can foster interest and attract talent that can be tracked and cultivated in the long term. Introducing kids to coding early, whether through coding games, in school, or in the community, can soon lead to high school graduates who are well equipped to specialize their skills or start working in the tech world.
Building a culture of low barriers of entry into the coding world makes for a more robust tech community, giving companies a better choice of candidates for the jobs they need filled. Especially if this responsibility is shared among companies, everyone can reap the benefits.
Fostering Diversity (a good thing for everyone)
The tech world is notorious for its problems with diversity. True especially in programming and coding circles, the employment gaps for women and minorities are alarming and growing. Conscious and unconscious hiring biases only compound issues of access and societal pressures that drive women and minorities out of the computer science world.
According to Todd VanDuzer of Student Tutor, young students often get funneled into certain career paths based on preconceived notions about who can succeed in certain jobs. Self-selection occurs here too: a girl who doesn’t see any female CS teachers in a program might be dissuaded from applying.
“It’s vital that we assess students based on their merit and passion, rather than placing cultural expectations on them ourselves. This way, they’ll be able to fulfill their full potential in a career that they will both succeed in and be happy with” says VanDuzer.
Entrepreneur.com lists hosting tech workshops as one of the top ways to eliminate hiring biases and even the playing field, leading to a more diverse and extensive coding talent pool. In that sense, your company should host a coding workshop to make itself and its market environment better equipped.
A focus on diversity is important for more than just a buzzword: it enables companies to hire the best people across all demographics. Having a diverse workforce not only makes you a more attractive place for top talent to work, but leads to a healthy and varied workplace that can create products and services that appeal to a more diverse consumer base.
It’s Not That Hard
Sure, you’re not Apple. But that doesn’t mean hosting a coding workshop is out of your reach.
Given the vested public interest in tech workshops and how they benefit the community, many non-profits and other organizations are more than happy to partner with companies to make a workshop happen.
Consider reaching out to a local organization promoting diversity or gender equity in hiring, or one of the many national NGOs that foster out-of-school coding programs. Given the community-wide benefits of coding workshops, collaborating with other tech firms is also a great option to save money.
By utilizing volunteers, free or inexpensive coding resources, and partnerships with other organizations, your company can host a coding workshop. In addition to promoting your company locally, you’ll be spurring growth in the next wave of future programmers. You’ll doubtlessly feel the positive effects both short- and long-term.
This blog is written by the talented Katherine (Tori) Lutz. She is a graduate from Florida State University and current student at Columbia University. Professionally, her experience surrounds a great deal of freelance work in the areas of writing, editing and marketing.