26 August 2016

Are you sick of hearing about the skills gap?code club UKFast

I certainly am! If we all took steps to do something about it, we wouldn’t have to keep discussing it so much. At UKFast we’re taking the steps to do all we can to equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.

One of these is our Code Club and I was extremely proud to hear that it has been recognised as an official Star Club by the Code Club organisation – particularly because the in-house clubs are now run by our own apprentices, who have created such a fun and forward-thinking program.

Usually these clubs let kids get hands-on with various coding languages and play with Python, Scratch and Raspberry Pi microcomputers. Our last Code Club of the summer took place this week and it was our first opportunity to start teaching with the Micro:bit.

The Micro:bit is an extraordinary British innovation, developed by the BBC, that is being given to every year seven student in the country.

They are small devices, smaller than a credit card, but incredibly powerful and the perfect tool for learning. In just one Code Club we’ve already witnessed how they’re able to inspire the next generation in tech.

In our clubs, kids don’t just learn about coding – they learn how to bring it to the real world. How can they use code to control their toys? Or to communicate with each other? Or to make a game? And we work with many different devices: Micro:bit, Python and Raspberry Pis.

What is so nice is that these devices are designed to complement rather than compete with each other. The Micro:bit connects with the web and is compatible with tablets and smartphones, which makes it particularly fun to use for young programmers who like gaming.

There are limitless opportunities to grow and develop, and whilst they’re having a great time, they’re also learning an incredibly valuable skillset for the future.

Kids these days are hungry to learn and it’s great to see how enthusiastic their parents are about Code Club too. Parents are quite rightly worried about how much time their kids spend sitting behind a computer, playing games and pressing buttons. I have strict screen limiting rules in place at home for my own kids!

But it’s fantastic to see that many parents are now realizing the potential of technology and enabling this screen time for kids to innovate and create rather than absent-mindedly clicking buttons.

Electronic devices are encouraging young people to think, play and create. Kids don’t simply enjoy using technology and playing games – they want to understand and be part of the creative process.

Of course, too much screen time is still an issue for some, but sharing screen time is a very good way of actually tackling the problem. Teaching kids that screens can be tools as well as outlets is important. When kids get together once or twice a month to join us in our Code Clubs, we’re already getting to see them develop and come up with new ideas. They’re developing so quickly that some of the Code Club kids will be running their own teams at the next session!

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