I recently wrote that to master technology, you must master software. It is software that differentiates one device or computing experience from another. And since nearly all software today is built using open source projects and code, knowing how to collaborate and contribute to an open development community is a requirement for any developer or company regardless of industry.
Most companies today get this. They’re all at different stages in their learning curve about how to participate but they understand the need and the benefit. They’re also painfully aware of the global shortage of developers. For example, according to the 2012 Linux Jobs Report from Dice.com and The Linux Foundation, demand for Linux developer talent is at an all-time high, but 85 percent of hiring managers say finding that talent is difficult.
Many companies are taking this issue into their own hands. Google, IBM, Intel and others are designing programs to help prepare the next generation of developers with things like IBM’s Academic Initiative and Intel’s Student Hackathons. We at The Linux Foundation are also working hard to help meet the demand for developers with our Linux Training and Scholarship programs.
Google in November will launch its 2012 Code-in program, which encourages young people (age 13-17) to participate in open source development by awarding them points for specific tasks completed on specific open source projects. This kind of program allows students to write code and interact with open source leaders in public, where potential employers and college admittance counselors can see exactly what they’ve done. This gives budding students a chance to show their chops very early on in their careers and removes any intimidation barrier that might exist about getting started.
The Code-in organizations will choose 20 participants in January to travel to the Googleplex with a guardian and tour the campus. A new take on the "college tour," this will give students the experience and perspective needed to participate in today’s development environment and will help surface the rock stars of tomorrow for employers.