Going codeless can save the jobless

Being a multi-linguist, or a pianist, or an amateur philosopher, is not something you’d expect most IT job candidates to have on their resumes. But today’s workforce, due in part to the slow moving economy and ensuing recession, has adjusted to a more adaptable lifestyle than previous generations.

While yesterday’s career map was more straightforward -- major in a specific field, enter the sector on the bottom or near-bottom rung of the ladder (depending on who you knew), and work your way up until retirement, building a reputation for yourself along the way -- today things have changed.

These previously lucrative or “safe” sectors have been hit hard, and there are no longer any guarantees that starting a career in one dedicated sector, or even having a college degree relevant to a specific industry, will help secure and sustain employment. Job seekers must be ready to enter new industries and learn new skills in order to be able to both find a job and bring to it their own experiences for the collective good of the company.

Until recently, technology, while remaining a growth area, was proving more of a hindrance than a help to America’s unemployed. According to statistics released late last month by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, and Engine Advocacy, which focuses on the policy issues facing tech startups and venture firms, the tech sector (and jobs within it) will grow at a rate of 16 percent over the next 10 years, as compared to the 12.8 percent expected from the private sector as a whole.

With further growth expected, and more lucrative roles available, tech should be the sector to which job-seekers turn their attention, but many of today’s unemployed have experience from outside the tech sector, meaning they overlook it, expecting a wealth of technical skills to be required.

Preconceptions about the skills needed to enter the sector are preventing US workers, and "want-to-be workers", from accessing the opportunities the growing tech sector can offer. What if we could remove the need to understand and work in complex programming languages from the tech world? A world without code would not only open up the job market to proven analytical thinkers from other fields of work or study, but would also serve to jumpstart a growing sector. This is already happening, with some innovative businesses teaching un- and underemployed jobseekers and recent college grads how to create next-generation dynamic business applications -- without touching a stitch of VisualBasic, Javascript, C#, Ruby on Rails, Python, or any other programming language -- thus opening up a world of opportunity for both the sector and a new potential workforce.

These technical skills, particularly those necessary for programming, should no longer prove an obstacle for US workers looking for new employment in the tech sector. Rather than outsourcing roles to highly skilled foreign talent while US workers scramble for a finite number of jobs, we need to find a bridge between existing technology and job opportunities.

For example, a company called BPM Specialists is helping to prepare this disruptive force in the enterprise business tech world by training recent university graduates and experienced workers who have been abused by the current economy with degrees in mathematics, philosophy, music and other highly analytical specialties for a career that they might never have otherwise considered (or qualified for). By providing instruction to young jobseekers in a field where hiring remains strong, BPM Specialists helps to keep jobs in America—and American workers in jobs.

In conclusion, it’s these types of logical and analytical thinkers who are primed to solve business problems, who are most needed. This type of employee results in a better investment for business versus the traditional coder who understands the language but not what it means for driving the success of the business. By opening up opportunities to logical thinkers outside of the programming world, businesses are better positioned to align their back- and front-offices, which in turn is the ideal way to solve the problem of unemployment, and adjust to our rapidly changing business world.

Photo Credit: sokolovsky/Shutterstock

Alan Trefler, founder and CEO of Pegasystems, was named The American Business Award's “Software CEO of the Year” for 2009. He was also named “Public Company CEO of the Year” in 2011 by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. He is consulted extensively in the use of advanced technologies and work automation. Trefler's interest in computers originates from collegiate involvement in tournament chess, where he achieved a Master rating and was co-champion of the 1975 World Open Chess Championship. His passion and support for chess and the game’s community and current champions continues to this day. Trefler holds a degree with distinction in Economics and Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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