Talking to some people, the topic of programming and STEM education came up. And, although maybe a bit old, we ended up discussing the initiative in the United States to consider programming as a second language at a high school level.
In summary, the idea involves counting the credits from programming classes (Coding, Computer Science, Technology, etc.) towards the credits of foreign language classes (Spanish, French, German, etc.)
Some states are proposing or already implementing a similar initiative: Kentucky and Oklahoma passed bills enhancing coding as a foreign language, Texas offers it only to certain students, Florida ended up rejecting a similar bill (after pressure from education lobbies)...
I find it an interesting topic, but it has me divided.
On one hand, there is a clear need in the workforce for people with a technical and programming background. Learning how to code would light a path into a career that -at least for now- means job security and high-paying jobs.
In that sense, students would be learning something that they could actually apply in a professional environment. Something that could level the field, and break some social barriers.
On the other hand, and on a personal level, foreign languages were of extreme importance to me. Knowing some English and French opened many doors and gave me opportunities that I could have not even imagined: working in multinational companies, traveling the world, and meeting new cultures and people. I wouldn't be the person that I am now without learning a foreign language.
For many people, the second language they learn in high school may not be really useful. But for some others, it is a life-changing class.
Soft skills are as critical as technical skills for a software engineer. No one works in isolation. Each person has to deal with teammates, colleagues, managers, etc. Therefore team interpersonal skills are essential too. Soft skills include things like good communication, honesty, teamwork, integrity, organization, empathy, etc.