• Digital Single Market

    Why teaching coding to kids matters (even more so in Europe)

    As an understanding of ICT is a requirement in nearly 90% of professional occupations, embedding coding skills in both formal and non formal education should become a priority – especially in Europe where a massive shortage of tech workers is looming [read more]
    byGiustina Mizzoni | 12/Feb/20158 min read
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    As an understanding of ICT is a requirement in nearly 90% of professional occupations, embedding coding skills in both formal and non formal education should become a priority – especially in Europe where a massive shortage of tech workers is looming

    As technology becomes further integrated within our society, it has become increasingly important for young people to understand the world around them. Few stakeholders in employment and learning doubt the importance or relevance of learning programming.

    [Tweet “Europe is expected to face a shortfall of over 900,000 technically skilled employees by 2020”]

    In the UK alone, it is estimated that there will be a shortage of approximately 249,000 workers for technology based jobs by the same year. The creation of a European Digital Single Market is one of the top 10 priorities of the European Commission.

    As an understanding of ICT is a requirement in almost 90% of professional occupations, the lack of skilled experts which Europe is currently experiencing, will hinder the advancement of a hyper-connected single market.

    To overcome the the gap, coding skills need to become embedded in both the formal education systems through curriculum development, and in non formal education such as after school clubs. The success of this will depend on a strong collaboration between Government, civil society and industry.

    CoderDojo is a global community of after school, free programming clubs for young people. It is focused on giving kids and young people all over the world better access to the magic behind the technology that surrounds us.

    CoderDojo clubs (Dojos) run all over the world on a weekly basis, giving young people between the ages of 7 and 17 the opportunity to learn how to develop computer code, websites, apps, programs, games, and to explore creatively with technology.

    Young people who attend Dojos also learn complementary skills of logical thinking, problem solving, presentation and communication skills. As of January 2015, there are over 560 active Dojos in 56 countries, 370 of these clubs are spread across 27 European countries.


    Schermata 2015-02-11 alle 12.33.10

    In England, schools are introducing aspects of computer programming to children as young as five. Estonia has assigned €70,000 to an e-enabled program called Proge Tiger which aims to teach children from 7-19 how to code.

    The program offers teachers resources and training as well as supporting their schools financially in order to buy the equipment they need. These initiatives are part of the reason that the English and Estonian governments some of the most proactive institutions in promoting and supporting coding among young people.

    A recent survey of 20 EU countries, conducted by the European Schoolnet, delivered encouraging results in relation to the introduction of programming to school curriculums. Twelve of the countries already have integrated coding at a secondary school level while 7 countries plan to do so. However the introduction of coding into curriculums is not enough.

    For young people to become truly immersed in coding, afterschool clubs like Dojos are required to facilitate this extended learning. Children attending Dojos are driven by their own motivation, learning at their own pace, exploring and creating technology in a way that interests and excites them.

    [Tweet “Acquiring an understanding of computer coding is extremely important within our society…”]

    …if we want to create a European Digital Single Market. Without it, the majority of citizens will remain passive consumers and will be at the mercy of programmers and technology giants.

    The creation of a European Digital Single Market will bring with it great opportunities, with the European Commission estimating that it could produce up to €250 billion in additional growth and could also counteract rising unemployment rates.

    Commissioner Ansip recently wrote in a recent blog on the development of the DSM strategy that, ‘ We should only set out what is realistic, what is achievable and what can be easily understood. This should not become a ‘catch-all’ strategy, in the sense that it promises and talks a lot – but does not contain anything that can be done properly, or has any real impact’.

    I would echo his sentiment, but apply it to digital education. For Europeans to develop the necessary skills to succeed in the Digital single market, a combination of supporting of informal learning programs, like CoderDojo, and the implementation of computational thinking courses into formal education systems is required. But most importantly, real tangible support is needed from a range of stakeholders including European institutions, national governments, and industry leaders.

    There are many ways to get involved in CoderDojo, if you are intersted in mentoring at a local Dojo please see zen.coderdojo.com and get in touch with the Champion. For more information on starting a club see www.coderdojo.com. Or Get in touch e-mail: [email protected], Newsletter: Sign up, Twitter: @CoderDojo


     photo credits: Crown Copyright -Arron Hoare / www.coderdojo.com
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