Students Aren’t Learning Code & Frameworks Employers Need

A new study highlights how students are learning to code, and a lot of it is done on the job after graduation.

HackerRank recently completed its annual student developer survey, and there are some interesting findings. First, only about one-third of students (31.9 percent) are relying entirely on school for their education. A slightly larger percentage (37.7 percent) use both school and self-learning, and 27.4 percent report they are completely self-taught.

Those students are often learning via YouTube, too. It’s second only to Stack Overflow in the learning-about-code platform wars, with 73 percent of students reporting it’s how they educate themselves on coding (Stack Overflow checks in with 77.3 percent). Just shy of 60 percent rely on books, and nearly half of students queried tap into one of three categories: MOOCs, online tutorials, or competitive coding sites.

Post-graduation, there’s an interesting bridge to gap. The study finds employers need JavaScript, C#, Ruby, Go, Swift, and Scala developers, but there aren’t enough knowledgeable students to cover these positions. On the flip side, students are learning languages such as C, C++, Python, and Java, even though companies just don’t need those skills as much. We can likely point to legacy education models as the reason why these languages are taught even though employers aren’t demanding them.

Happily, many students also report JavaScript is a language they plan to learn, which should help meet employer demand. Go, Swift, and Ruby are also popular must-learn languages for students.

Probably because students aren’t learning JavaScript as often as companies might like, there’s also a gap for related frameworks such as Node.js, AngularJS, and React. Employers report needing those skills at a much higher rate than they can hire. Again, this is likely an effect of legacy education models not catching up to the dynamic world of tech.

Finally, U.S.-based graduates want perks more than growth opportunities, which is impressively prescient. The most requested ‘benefit’ is a good work-life balance, and even graduates want a more fluid schedule. When asked what a work-life balance means to them, students in the U.S. said a flexible work schedule was at the top of their list; roughly 90 percent said this was the most important perk for them. Nearly 70 percent say a generous time-off package was key; the same percentage say they’d rather employers focus on outcome, not how many hours they work. About 65 percent say remote work opportunities are key for them.

A final interesting tidbit: Students in the U.S. aren’t driven by money. In HackerRank’s findings, professional growth, a good work-life balance, interesting problems to solve at work, company culture, and working with a talented team all rank ahead of compensation for graduates.

5 Responses to “Students Aren’t Learning Code & Frameworks Employers Need”

  1. The reason those other languages are taught is because they are more intuitive and easy to learn in a teaching environment. Where you dont come across real world examples. As a general rule, if you know those languages its pretty easier to learn those other languages, if u spend some time on them.

  2. wageslave

    The IT labor market is in one word, dysfunctional. The technology changes every four years with a two year learning curve. As a result, software engineers with 12 programing languages under their belts cannot find work because they are missing the 13th language of the day. The market behaves as if employers don’t want to pay engineers a salary for two years to get up to speed in the language/technology of the day. Even with proven track records.
    College new hires are even more screwed when employers expect and don’t financially support the learning curve. When there is little to no demand for college hires unless they have specific skills already, the head hunters have almost zero interest in placing low value widgets unless there is a cash register ringing in the back ground. Consequently, the market of college hires has become impacted limiting the movement of all but the luckiest of candidates. Under these conditions, I wouldn’t recommend getting a degree in a software development discipline to anyone. The numbers not getting thru are not getting rewarded for the expense of getting a degree.
    With the labor market taken over by the resume mills and head hunters came the ability for employers to demand more and not pay any fees unless a suitable workers are found. The cost of demanding more therefore went way down in economic terms to almost nothing. A phone call.
    The millennials are not dumb. They see the impaction and if they don’t, they are doomed to feel the impact when they collide with it. Some can experience two years of unemployment after graduation. OUCH! The H1b issue is simply a symptom of a much bigger change in market dynamics as supply and demand are both being impacted in the wrong directions.
    The pie graph is scary. What is the cost of self-taught? What is the cost of continuing education? And why would anyone want to absorb these costs for the employer’s bottom line? With health care reform being neglected for decades and the fact that it is attached to the bottom line sensitive employer, the usefulness of a person has a much shorter shelf life. And then there is the luck factor of learning the right technology in a timely manner. One word for all this. Dysfunctional.

    • You’ve hit the nail exactly on the head. I have been turned away from so many positions because I either lack 3-5 years experience in some up and coming technology, usually less than 2 years viable, and definitely wouldn’t be on my radar unless I actively spent all of my professional and free time watching every open source / hot new thing project and got lucky enough to trip over the next React or Ruby, OR my personal favorite: “We loved you and your qualifications but decided to go in a different direction.” …translation? We found someone who will do it cheaper aka some dumb enough to quote $70-$80K for a $100K+ position or the bottom 1/2 to 2/3 of H1B candidates whom they can milk for the hours or two or three devs without complaint. The Body Shoppers. The words of my colleagues who are H1Bs and GCs now themselves. This lower echelons work cheap, but often end up costing the company due to low quality code that needs to be refactored.

      I have fixed some hot garbage in my day done by the lower tier H1Bs or family friends, and let me tell you, it is often easier just to throw everything out and let me attack it for a week solid, than for me to untangle the mess that I’ve inherited. My previous contract, I had 6 months to completely unf*ck something that was practically a non functional alpha which took two years for someone who had no real experience, no concept of CS fundamentals, and was hired primarily because of their familial relation rather than expertise. Part way through, when I tossed half of it out, the boss came to me, saying I couldn’t just throw it out because his cousin did it and it would hurt his feelings if he found out. I was told, point blank, restore most of it or be fired and sued for breach of contract. I thank God every day they decided to terminate the contract on their terms because they decided they’d rather have a native Armenian speaker do it, regardless of ability.

      This is the sort of thing many of us have to deal with day in, day out. Seriously, it’s like any skilled labor, pay the money now, save yourself heartache and technical debt.

  3. If you learn how to program in C++ you can program in any language. All the other languages will be extremely easy to learn after you master C++. I can program in any technology it is just a tool to solve the problems. A guy with C++ can learn angular in 8 hrs do it is not a big of deal.