Tech industry comes out fighting against skills shortage


Volunteer, grass-roots movement to tackle the digital skills gap, will provide hundreds of opportunities for people up and down the country

National Coding Week is back and bigger than ever for its third year with more than 3000 people expected to participate throughout the UK. Running from 19 to 25 September, the UK-wide, week-long series of events is entirely run by volunteers and encourages adults to try their hand at writing computer code, often for the first time.

“The EU Commission predicts that by 2020 Europe will have a shortfall of 900,000 IT professionals. And with the UK potentially going it alone post-Brexit we need to grow as much talent as we can at home,” said Richard Rolfe who founded the event in 2014.

The volunteers behind this year’s events come from a range of organisations, from start ups to multinationals and span the length and breadth of the UK. MadLab, Dreamr, Yard Digital, Code Up, Women Who Code, Barclays and Generate, are just some of the names behind National Coding Week 2016. Their common goal is to highlight that coding is a skill which can open doors to anybody, regardless of their background, education or employment history.

Events this year include an introduction to coding for the homeless, intergenerational coding events where older generations are taught by 12 year old students, and sessions run by National Coding Week’s own volunteer Jonathan Channing who has autism and is keen to inspire other people who, like him, may have struggled at school.

Channing said: “I attended a one week course in November 2014, simply out of curiosity. From the moment I learned the first tag of html I was utterly consumed. Coding became an outlet for me and has opened doors for me since then. I recently founded my own business Cobra Coding and love being my own boss. I see autism as an advantage in my future career; seeing the world from a different perspective and thinking differently has advantages. I love having the opportunity to teach coding to others and inspire young people who might struggle in similar ways to me.”

Rolfe added: “As a ‘crowd sourced’ event, the success of National Coding Week rests on passionate computer programmers, developers and digital professionals who give back by hosting their own events and we’re delighted so many have given their time for National Coding Week 2016. This is our biggest year yet with more than 300 events planned! From Glasgow to Jersey, wherever you are, there should be an event close by to attend.

“This isn’t a government initiative, nor are we doing it for profit. National Coding Week was created because, as an industry, we identified that we needed to do something ourselves to address this ever-growing skills gap.”

National Coding Week, which is supported by platinum sponsor JT Group, offers free-to-attend training sessions for anybody who’s interested in being taught the basics of coding alongside other beginners with little or no previous knowledge.


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