UKFast and Code Club in North West First for Digital Skills

Article date: Tue, 22 Sep 2015 16:21 GMT

UKFast Code Club 2015

Cloud hosting firm UKFast has teamed up with Code Club - the international network of coding clubs for children - to launch the first club in the North West to be delivered from commercial premises.

Whereas most Code Clubs are held in schools and community venues such as libraries, this move sees UKFast become the only commercial organisation in the region to deliver Code Clubs on-site at its 50,000 sq ft campus at Manchester Science Park, giving kids a taste for how coding skills apply to a real career in the technology industry.

As Code Club's North West Co-ordinator, Liz Smart, explains; what makes Code Club unique is that children aged 9-11 get to experience learning outside of a formal teaching environment, with the help of a local volunteer.

She says: "To bring Code Club into UKFast is fantastic… being able to link both the teachers and the kids with professionals working in the industry is amazing for their development, and the development of Code Club.

"When we take kids into a great space like UKFast Campus it's really helpful. It gives them a different experience of what coding is and shows them what this interest can lead to in terms of their future."

UKFast CEO, Lawrence Jones MBE, who employed two former teachers to head up the firm's training division in 2013, has always ensured education is a major focus for his firm, which engages with thousands of children from schools across Greater Manchester.

Jones says: "Running a Code Club is such an energising experience. It means we are getting more kids in here and helping to create the next generation of tech experts as well as helping give them opportunities to have fun and learn new things. It's another way of being pro-active in order to meet the digital skills gap we hear so much about.

"From the point of view of our team at UKFast, running Code Clubs allows people from different departments to get involved and it gives people another platform to interact and develop themselves."

The volunteer team at UKFast includes teacher Arlene Bulfin, director of training and education Aaron Saxton, and director of partner development Chris Marsh, who also sits on the council of Manchester Digital.

Marsh says: "We are so pleased to part of the Code Club community. Our ultimate aim is to inspire these young people and empower them through learning. Coding is all about problem solving, analysis and exercising the creativity that kids have in bucket loads."

"It's a big plus to see so many girls taking an interest too. At our last club we had 15 girls out of a group of 18. Only 16% of students taking computing at GCSE are female, so clearly that's an issue which needs addressing and an area of potential skills resource which we are not making full use of."

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