Once a month Martin Brown, EMC Country Manager in Scotland, makes his way into the Livingston office – but he isn’t opening up the premises to catch up on emails or write reports. He is getting ready for 20 school children to arrive and spend a couple of hours gearing up to become IT professionals of the future.
These monthly sessions are run with CoderDojo Scotland – part of a global collaboration providing free coding clubs for young people – with volunteer mentors providing advice and support. Attendees can learn how to code, develop websites, build apps and games and more, and it’s all carried out in an environment which makes learning a fun and sociable experience. No previous experience is necessary; the only thing the participants need to bring with them is enthusiasm and a laptop.
EMC Scotland has been part of the CoderDojo initiative for six months and regularly sees up to 20 young people take part in their events. They provide the office space free of charge with Martin and members of his team at EMC taking part as mentors, offering guidance and support as they share their knowledge and experience with this next generation of coders.
Martin Brown explains: “I’d been keen to get EMC involved with CoderDojo for quite a while because it’s such a great way for school kids to get involved in IT in a format that’s may be less structured and rigid than their IT subjects in school, but is no less beneficial as it lets them see careers in this sector can offer so much satisfaction, creative input and reward.
“It’s been said many times before that IT is truly a global industry and with projections around the world showing more and more IT-related jobs will need to be filled in the future, starting to get children interested now is vital.
“Here in Scotland, and in the UK generally, we have a shortage of skilled workers in certain areas of our industry and one of the ways to address this is by encouraging kids of this age to look at coding and building websites, to name just two, as future career choices.
“I have been delighted with the response we have had to our sessions here in Livingston and EMC will continue to support CoderDojo in this on a regular basis.”
One youngster, James Wilson, who regularly attends the EMC sessions said “Coderdojo helps me to meet new friends who have the same interests as me, and it’s great fun! I wish I could go more!”
His mum, Lynnette Wilson, adds “Coderdojo is an excellent class run by enthusiastic volunteers. James has a great time and is always bursting to show us what he has been learning. The EMC buildings provide a very high standard environment to introduce and develop IT skills.”
Inga Jack, whose son Robbie also attends Coderdojo, has been equally impressed: “Robbie has been attending CoderDojo Livingston since it started and really enjoys it. He finds it interesting and the people who run the course are very friendly and helpful. He is delighted to be learning about coding, especially as this is the career he wishes to follow when he leaves school.
“As a parent I am very impressed with the organisation and I think that CoderDojo is a fantastic opportunity for young people – I really appreciate the time and patience given by the mentors in helping them develop their coding skills.”
Not just parents and children seem to gain something from the sessions: CoderDojo mentor Lawrence Rabbets says: “Helping as a mentor at the CoderDojo and sharing your passion with the next generation is extremely satisfying, seeing how the young people react when they achieve and learn new things just puts a smile on everyone’s face. It is definitely a highlight every month and I always look forward to our Livingston CoderDojo.”
If you’ve enjoyed reading about CoderDojo and know somebody who you think ought to get involved, you can find out more on their website.