According to the App Association, there were 223,000 unfilled coding jobs in the U.S. In the past, many companies touted at least a bachelor’s degree to even be considered. Today, coding is becoming the new literacy and almost at the point of a prerequisite. Just take a look at General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt who announced that every new hire needs to learn how to code. The CEO of the 305,000-person company wrote on LinkedIn:

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code…. This is existential and we’re committed to this.”

So, it seems that this is becoming the new normal. Yet, the supply gap is growing, In 2014, out of the 1.9 million graduating college students, only 55,367 students received computer science degrees. Moreover, only 1 in 10 high schools in the U.S. even offer computer science classes.

Yet, coding is something millions of Americans do often–even if at the most basic level. If you’ve ever set up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, you’ve done some coding. In fact, an industry is rising up to target what is called “Citizen Developers.” These types of people don’t need to understand full-blown programming to set up and configure apps.

Companies such as Caspio, QuickBase, Appian, and Mendix are designing visual interfaces that allow citizen developers to put together software blocks without needing deep coding skills. In fact, Forrester expects this industry to bring in $15 billion by 2020 as companies increase adoption of “Citizen Development” policies. So, it seems that the future CEOs of the world will need to have some coding experience.

Intelligent machines are on the way

The machines are coming, yes they are. If you’ve ever worried about the onslaught of SkyNet, you are not alone. With AI growing at a rapid pace, it’s just a matter of time before an increasing number of robots enter the workplace. They’re already there, and many of them are just waiting for the right time to emerge.

Back in 2014, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick shared his view that Uber will deploy robot-driving cars by 2035. He told his drivers not to worry, but that’s just the way the world is. Well, it is not 2035, it is 2016 and Uber is already deploying robot-driving cars in Pittsburgh. When you think about it, this makes much more economic sense for Uber than hiring a human driver.

With a driver, Uber makes about $.20 for every dollar a customer spends. With a self-driving car, Uber stands to make 100 percent of the profit. So, why wouldn’t they make this move? And, it’s not just Uber–it’s every small and large company considering replacing workers with AI and robots. Perhaps it won’t be a full replacement, and this may be a few years out, but it’s coming.

Of course, Uber still has some hurdles to overcome. To illustrate, many cities ban driverless cars. In fact, their Pittsburgh fleet still requires a safety driver in case self-driving goes awry. As a result, some say that the best way to protect your job is to learn the language of computers.

Kathryn Parsons, the co-founder and chief executive of Shoreditch-based Decoded explained:

“This is not just about factory jobs that people think can be replaced, this is a cognitive revolution in terms of technology — thinking technologies that can replace lawyers and bankers. You can choose to be terrified or you can choose to embrace change and go with it. Technology is having a seismic impact on dismantling big business globally, for example high street retailers competing with the growth of online, the use of drones as delivery vehicles, and automated driving. There are three million people employed in truck driving jobs alone in the US. The companies that employ people in millions of jobs, how many of those are at risk of automation and are creating education systems that are giving us the best chance of creating a pipeline of skills and innovators? We’re at risk of automation and we’re not doing enough in any single geography in the world to prepare ourselves for that change.”

It goes without saying that if you want to become a CEO, you need to protect your job. So, learning to code is one major way to do just that.

You can’t always rely on outsourcing

When you’re trying to launch new products and keep up with the evolving marketplace, you need to stay ahead of the curve. If you don’t understand how to code, how can you understand what you need most? Developers aren’t always going to have your company’s best interests in mind. It’s not that they’re evil people, but they don’t run your company–you do.

As a result, you need to understand every facet in order to produce products and services your target customer needs and wants. You don’t want technology to limit your company because you can’t even delve into making small changes without hiring outside help. What learning to code can teach you is that there is always more to do such as:

  • Creating a better architecture
  • Updating processes
  • Improving the products

On a different level, these are things you already do on a daily basis. A CEO must be a lifelong learner, and coding is a lifelong pursuit.

You think of your business differently

When you learn to code, you are forced to take a different perspective on your business. You’ll start to think in terms of specific skills your employees need to have. You might look at how product architecture affects your current business model.

It may even cause you to take a closer look at how product features helps your company stand out from the competition. In addition, you can more easily identify talent. How can you hire the best and brightest front-end and/or back-end developers without having some experience yourself?

IT Security

It is estimated that one occurrence of a data breach can cost a company millions of dollars. Yet, cyber threats are on the rise. When you consider that cyber crime is a billion dollar industry, then you need to do everything in your power to stay prepared.

This is especially true for companies in the U.S., who are the biggest targets. As a CEO, it only helps to understand network security principles. You can then relate to why your IT department needs more funding for security. You won’t have to make costly mistakes.

When you learn how to code, you view business processes from an enhanced perspective. Not to mention, you can better communicate your specific needs with your IT team. It’s the best way to protect your job and stay ahead of your competition.