End-user programmers are at least half of all programmers
I was intrigued to see this post during CS Ed Week from ChangeTheEquation.org. They’re revisiting the Scaffidi, Shaw, and Myers question from 2005 (mentioned in this blog post).
You may be surprised to learn that nearly DOUBLE the number of workers use computing than originally thought. Our new research infographic shows that 7.7 million people use complex computing in their jobs — that’s 3.9 million more than the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports. We examined a major international dataset that looks past job titles to see what skills people actually use on the job. It turns out that the need for complex computer skills extends far beyond what the BLS currently classifies as computer occupations. Even more reason why computer science education is more critical than ever!
ChangeTheEquation.org is coming up with a much lower estimate of end-user programmers than did Scaffidi et al. Why is that? I looked at their methodology:
To estimate the total number of U.S. citizens who use computers in complex ways on the job, CTEq and AIR examined responses to question G_Q06 in the PIAAC survey: What level of computer use is/was needed to perform your job/last job?
- STRAIGHTFORWARD, for example using a computer for straightforward routine tasks such as data entry or sending and receiving e-mails
- MODERATE, for example word-processing, spreadsheets or database management
- COMPLEX, for example developing software or modifying computer games, programming using languages like java, sql, php or perl, or maintaining a computer network
Their “Complex” use is certainly programming, but Scaffidi et al would also call building spreadsheet macros and SQL queries programming. ChangeTheEquation has a different definition that I think undercounts significantly.