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Code First Girls has launched a campaign with the aim of teaching coding to 20,000 young women by 2020.
The social enterprise has partnered with organisations KKR and OVH to provide employers with training support to teach the young women in their organisations to code, as well as provide free coding courses to women through other charitable institutions.
Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls, explained the initiative aims to help close the widening digital skills gap currently present in the UK’s tech sector by developing a pool of 20,000 young people with coding and tech skills.
Many firms complain that graduates are leaving university without the skills needed to fill the increasing number of empty tech roles, and research by Code First: Girls found a lack of skills is also a barrier for women trying to go into tech.
“The initiative addresses a critical qualifications gap in the job market and has the potential to rapidly improve the UK economy in a significant way,” said De Alwis.
“The need for tech and digital talent is massively exceeding the pool of qualified individuals entering the workforce. We think the best way to start addressing this gap is to train more young women to code.”
The Code First: Girls initiative, dubbed 20:20, will also provide a community platform to help women who have completed the course to support each other and allow partners to gain access to women who have completed the course and are considering a career in tech.
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As part of the development for the programme, Code First: Girls has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise £25,000 to help towards delivering training and support to young women.
Across the world and in many different industries, there is a lack of women in the technology industry, and in most cases, the sector blames a lack of young women choosing science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects early on in the education pipeline for a number of various reasons.
Some blame a lack of role models for this slow uptake of girls in Stem careers, as you can’t be what you can’t see, and young girls have claimed they want to see more women in the technology space acting as role models.
A number of ambassadors, including Martha Lane Fox, Stephanie Shirley, founder of Tech Global Advocates Russ Shaw and president of Tech UK Jacqueline De Rojas have already signed up to support the programme.
Building a diverse sector
Tech UK president Jacqueline De Rojas said: “Women are significantly underrepresented in the tech industry and we just can’t allow this situation to remain if we want build a diverse and innovative sector that can underpin our future economy.
“The Code First: Girls 2020 campaign is a vital ingredient in enabling the younger generation to feel empowered to choose from the hugely varied careers available in tech,” she said.
“Whenever I walk into a room where I can see girls coding to create and imagine new applications, I am truly inspired to keep working for a future powered by these exciting, bright minds.”
Code First: Girls has already trained up to 5,000 women to code for free, and also runs paid courses for men and women who are interested in learning more about how to use technology.