EU Code Week in Ireland

I’m delighted to share this guest blog post written by the Irish Ambassador for EU Code Week Juile Cullen!  
 
I’m a secondary school teacher in St. Oliver's Community College Drogheda (English, German, European Studies) As a teacher I see the huge interest that young people have in ICT and gaming. However, our current curriculum does not allow for the teaching of coding in schools, aside from perhaps TY. 
 
That is why coding clubs like CoderDojo are so significant not just in fueling passion and collaboration among young people but also in providing them with real skills that can be used in our current technology-driven society. The Digital Agenda Assembly in Dublin in June 2013 highlighted the fact that by 2015, there will be 900,000 ICT jobs to be filled in Europe and we are facing a major skills shortage to fill these jobs (http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240187945/EU-expects-900000-unfilled-IT-jobs-in-2015)
 
I became interested in elearning and technology after completing a MSc in Education and elearning in 2012 at DCU. Since February 2013, I’ve been Young Advisor to Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission. Mrs Kroes is very eager to promote the engagement of young people with technology, especially young girls. I see first hand the amazing work that CoderDojo do in my hometown of Drogheda. They are based in my school and it is intriguing to see students give up their time on a Saturday to learn coding. The mentors (namely Graham O'Rourke) are very generous of their time and talent and the way in which they are fueling an interest in coding will stand to our town in the future. They are shortening the skills gap in ICT in a fun and cool atmosphere. 
 
Europe Code Week aims to connect individuals, groups and companies who want to help people experience the joy of coding. Coding is a fun and creative field full of passionate people. Coding deserves to be celebrated. As Irish Ambassador, I realise that there are already a huge number of mentors and clubs involved in teaching coding in Ireland. However, we need to create more awareness of these fabulous clubs and encourage more people to join in. CoderDojo has a wait list every time it holds a club in my home town. We need more mentors in these clubs. We need more companies to get involved and start their own clubs. We need to show young people that there are jobs available in this field. 
 
There is a need for more girls in ICT roles in Ireland. We need to attract more girls into the world of coding. CoderDojo actively aims and succeeds in doing this by increasing the number of girls in the role of leadership – they discovered that this attracts more girls into the club.

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