For the past few years there have been reports circulating that by 2017 the UK will need 750,000 skilled digital workers. If this is not reached, it could cost the economy as much as £2bn annually.
In response to this, the UK changed the curriculum in 2014 so that ICT was replaced with a subject that teaches children computer science, information technology and digital literacy. Microsoft and Google were involved in creating the new curriculum, as they wanted to address the fear that we were not producing enough people that could successfully work in the digital age. However, this has only taken place in England and it is unclear when the curriculum will change in Wales.
At Spindogs we pride ourselves on making the digital divide smaller, so I decided to do something to help the UK reach its goal of 750,0000 skilled digital workers. The first thing I did was contact Code Club, an organisation which was set up to inspire children and teach them skills which mean they can learn about computational thinking, problem solving, planning, designing and collaboration. I then contacted my local library so that I could set up my own Code Club there.
A Code Club is a place for 9-11 years olds to learn programming and is led by a volunteer, which in this case, is me! The sessions last for one hour and to date I have run six sessions, which have been both a daunting and amazing experience.
A lesson consists of the following. First, I usually spend the first five minutes teaching the class a coding concept. Then I run through a tutorial with the group and spend the remainder of the session helping everyone with the tutorial.
During the first session, I taught the attendees how to use Scratch, which can be used to make games and animations. I then hope to progress the class by teaching them about HTML, CSS, Python and then hopefully some circuit fun by showing them CamJam. This will ultimately give a varied selection of coding types and logic to the young programmers.
Did you know that the first ever programmer was a woman called Ada Lovelace? In the programming industry there is quite a gender ratio imbalance, but from my experience with Code Club I have found that both girls and boys want to learn to code. I believe that this will only continue and the ratio imbalance will diminish as everyone is capable of coding.
So far, my experience with Code Club has been incredible and I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching coding every week. Young programmers do unexpected and amazing things during every session, and I have seen first-hand how much they enjoy working out their own logic using code.
The pride I feel when I see the young programmers show their parents their work at the end of a session is amazing, and it’s truly an honour to be a part of this.
When I started at Spindogs nine years ago, there were six of us and now there are 23 and we are still growing! On the development side of the business there were three in the team and now there are nine of us. These figures demonstrate the growth of the IT sector and I believe it is only going to continue to get bigger.
In my opinion, the UK is placed in a great position to be a powerhouse in a global digital economy, though it has to start at a grass roots level with the next generation and the current generation should be empowered to lead the IT industry.
If you can code, why not set up a club like I did? It only takes an hour a week but by teaching coding you are playing an important part in empowering the next generation.
Know a 9-11 year old who has aspirations of becoming a developer? Find out more on Code Club’s website.