As recently reported in Gizmodo:
At a rally in Derry, New Hampshire on Monday, per the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel , Biden talked about how unemployed miners and coal workers who have lost their jobs in recent years can find “jobs of the future” if they “learn to program.” Referencing his role in a Barack Obama-era programming skills initiative in schools, Biden commented that “Anybody who can go down 3000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well… Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”
As someone who has written software professionally for several decades, I’m sorry to have to correct him: not anyone can learn to develop software (often dismissively refered to as “coding”) for a living. Writing software at a truly professional level takes certain innate aptitudes and years of training and practice. More importantly, I deeply believe that those who are best at it are drawn to it on a visceral, even artistic level. Those who go into it as “a good moneymaking career” will more often than not discover that there are much easier moneymaking careers around and choose those instead.
I have had a standing offer to mentor any of my friends or family in learning how to program. Only a couple have ever taken me up on it. None have become professional programmers, although one did become a successful webmistress. I have had other friends who have gone to college to earn degrees in software engineering, who have either dropped out early to pursue other interests, or who have wound up with degrees they don’t use.
The people who I believe are best at anything are those who pursue it with a passion. Not everyone has a passion they can pursue professionally, but combining a lack of passion with the competitive requirement for the deep stack of skills it takes to be a software developer is a recipe for failure.
I encourage everyone of every age to study programming. I think it teaches life skills important in today’s world, like systems thinking. And in so doing you might even discover you have a passion for it. Otherwise, there are many useful and lucrative trades that can be learned by young or old that don’t demand the deep, highly specialized, and relatively rare aptitudes required by “coding”.