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Top UK expert emphasises need to prepare kids for jobs of the future

Article by Make Lemonade NZ

Christchurch – One of the top 50 most influential women in UK tech, Clare Sutcliffe, is in New Zealand this week to emphasise the urgent need to prepare Kiwi children for the jobs of the future.

Sutcliffe has been hosted by Code Club Aotearoa, a New Zealand tech volunteer charity trust built from the foundation organisation that Sutcliffe established in the UK in 2012.

She received an MBE for her services to technology in 2015 after co-founding Code Club which is now a world-wide volunteer organisation teaching more than 120,000 children how to better understand and control the technologies around them.

Sutcliffe is in Christchurch today meeting with tech industry and volunteers who are eager to explore the benefits and importance of giving primary school children the confidence to code.

Sutcliffe believes the future of work means that many jobs will require the ability to understand and programme computers for one reason or another. To adapt to that changing landscape it is a good idea to learn new skills, she says.

“The decision to introduce digital technology into the New Zealand primary school curriculum in 2018 is a very wise one, embedding computational thinking from early years means that the emerging citizens and workforce will be more appropriately trained for jobs of the future.

“A thriving economy needs entrepreneurs, innovators and the people with skills to build businesses that meet new or growing needs. Creating an infrastructure that supports those entrepreneurs will be essential to a diverse economy.”

Sutcliffe warns that everyone is responsible for teaching children important skills so that they can find their place in the digital world. It takes a village of people to achieve this, she says.

“Parents are responsible for encouraging the children when they show an interest in building things with technology, schools should be providing a wide range of opportunities to do so and government and industry need to make the sure the infrastructure is in place for these students to learn and then contribute to society.”

Sutcliffe says she is impressed with Code Club Aotearoa’s unique approach and ability to adapt the UK-born concept and resources to meet the needs of New Zealand children.

“Code Club Aotearoa’s approach is great because not only is it aligned with the incoming computing curriculum but it’s also adapting to the needs of the New Zealand classroom. They are working hard to build up a body of projects that reference the rich culture of the country.”

Code Club Aotearoa’s co-founder Michael Trengrove says the concept of Code Club is great because it is an easily replicable solution which prevents teachers and volunteers from having to be computer science experts to teach children to code.

“We can take Code Club resources and adapt them to work with the New Zealand curriculum and to suit the needs of Kiwi kids and cultures. Our newest initiative working with Maori communities to combine te reo and coding is testament to this as it has been a huge success.”

Code Club has seen huge growth worldwide and now has 8000 clubs in 120 different countries. Around 200 new clubs join every month and Code Club Aotearoa is also growing at pace.

Only 23 percent of the tech sector are females but the New Zealand and UK Code Clubs are seeing a promising shift in gender balance among their primary-aged participants with 40 percent of attendees being girls.

For further information contact Code Club Aotearoa co-founder Michael Trengrove on 021 403106 or Make Lemonade editor Janelle Blythe on 021 662138

Photo: Code Club Aotearoa in action at Mashup 2016

Janelle Blythe
Make Lemonade's news editor.

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