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Britain needs more talent
Date article publshed: 28/06/2013 Read original article >
Today we are proud to launch Wonga Codemakers. So begins a mission to find and then inspire the next generation of British entrepreneurs and internet visionaries. We want to find ambitious young people, from all walks of life and with all levels of ability, who can go on to shape everything digital - from business and communications, through to computer games and mobile apps.
It’s a search that will initially take 50 teenagers into St James’ Park this summer. They won’t be there to learn ball skills, but how to help take the world’s next technological leaps forward. And if that sounds a bit grand, it’s the very real power of being able to control computers.
Wonga Codemakers is our new, non-profit initiative that we’re launching in partnership with Codecademy, the global tech education company, and the Newcastle United Foundation.
We’re still a young company but we’re determined to do something meaningful alongside our normal business activities. Indeed, we’ve been supporting entrepreneurial endeavours for a number of years, such as the thousands of interest-free loans we’ve provided via Kiva.org, or with our grants for IT students at Imperial College London.
Our new mission is to get kids coding. Schools are not always teaching it in an engaging way, which we think is a shame given the huge demand for programmers out there, and learning to code gives people the ability to create opportunities and make a real difference. The launch of our pilot camp comes in the wake of The European Commission suggesting there will be 900,000 IT vacancies in the EU by 2015, with demand growing by 100,000 new digital jobs every year.
The programme will kick-off with an initial, week-long coding camp for 13 and 14 year-olds in the North East, who will be taught by expert technology students and also get to hear from inspirational speakers from the entrepreneurial world, such as Saul Klein of Index Ventures and seedcamp. Initially open to Year 8 and 9 pupils, they or their parents can now apply for a place on the first camp. The application process is simple and will remain open until mid-July.
Joanna Shields, Chief Executive of Tech City and UK Business Ambassador for Digital Industries said: “The UK has firmly established itself as Europe’s digital capital thanks to its combination of creativity, entrepreneurship, investment opportunities and companies at every stage of development and maturity. We need to continue to see more investment, mentoring and skills development and programmes such as Wonga Codemakers will help us continue to establish entrepreneurship as a credible career path and build the digital skills this country depends on for its future economic success.”
As a technology company, coding is at the centre of everything Wonga does and, like many growing web businesses, we are very aware of the need for more talented programmers and software engineers. Indeed, there has been a 38% fall* in the number of students taking ICT A-levels over the past decade, while IT employment is forecast to increase by 1.6%** every year until 2020. We believe Wonga Codemakers can go on to make a meaningful contribution to bridging this divide.
Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of Wonga, said: “Computer code is a language that few people understand, but it has the power to do so much and we’re determined to deliver an inspiring and accessible programme. The Newcastle camp will allow us to get things started and design an exceptional blueprint this year, but we’re treating it much like any new venture and our vision is to reach thousands of children over the next few years. We’ll do that by rolling out the camps across the UK and to other countries where we have a presence. Everything we do is built to scale.”
The Wonga Codemakers curriculum has been written by Codecademy and tested with kids around the globe. As a leader in tech education, Codecademy is building the first truly net-native education platform and we’re pairing that expertise with the added draw of football venues and some of our own practical experience.
Errol added: “The growing gap between demand and talent has been highlighted by several high-profile people, from the Prime Minister to Will.i.am, and we intend to do something about it. We have recruited hundreds of star coders ourselves over recent years and it’s a real challenge to find the right level of talent for many more roles right now, so we are acutely aware of what’s needed to succeed.
*Joint Council for Qualifications
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