Coding is fast becoming an essential skill for the next generation, according to Seán Kelly MEP who hosted the fourth annual EU Dojo in the European Parliament during EU Code Week 2016 (15-23 October).
“Europe’s Digital Progress Report for 2016 confirms that internet provision across the EU is improving. Research found that fast broadband technologies or Next Generation Access has reached 71 percent of homes. Internet availability, quality and speed will continue to rise under Digital Agenda plans. However, the same report found that just 55pc of Europeans have basic digital skills. So, while access to technology may have improved, not all of our citizens are able to fully benefit from it yet,” said Mr Kelly, a member of Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
Today, initiatives like EU Code Week are raising awareness of the importance of learning how to code and encouraging citizens to get involved. Organisations like CoderDojo, a global, non-profit network of free coding clubs for youth, are training the coding wizards of tomorrow. Policymakers too can support such initiatives, in Mr Kelly’s view, by incorporating coding into school curriculum and by accomodating coding clubs for all ages in local communities.
“Coding clubs are not just about programming lessons. They are ideas factories and a launch pad for young entrepreneurs across Europe. Labour market needs will be increasingly technological in the future. If we provide our citizens with the right education and training, such as coding, we will be equipping them for a prosperous future full of career opportunities.
Mr Kelly also launched the CoderDojo MEP Ambassador initiative in the European Parliament, which aims to promote coding skills to young people around Europe with the help of an MEP Ambassador in each of the 28 Member States.
“As a former teacher, I have always believed that encouraging innovative thinking is vital. Education does not end the moment you leave school or university. Teaching children the language of code is not only a highly valuable skill that will help expand their career opportunities later. Coding will open their young minds to innovation, creation and the endless possibilities that such entrepreneurial thinking brings,” MEP Kelly added.