code first
Rebecca Wayman

This business is teaching thousands of women to code by 2020

Award-winning social enterprise, Code First: Girls has launched its 2020 campaign - to teach 20,000 young women how to code for free by the end of the decade.

Code First: Girls is working with campaign partners and backers from employers including KKR and OVH to train young women how to code at the start of their careers across the UK and Ireland.

The programme will offer training support to employees from the partner companies, with the opportunity to train young female staff as well as gift free coding courses on the partner’s behalf to young women at other institutions.

Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls, said: “We’re truly delighted to launch our ‘20k by 2020’ programme. The initiative addresses a critical qualifications gap in the job market and has the potential to rapidly improve the UK economy in a significant way.

“In the UK, between 2011 and 2015, the number of digital tech jobs across the UK grew by 17 per cent. And with digital jobs paying 44 per cent more than the national average, and 50 per cent of the UK’s digital tech community highlighting a shortage of skilled employees, the need for [such] talent is exceeding the pool of qualified individuals entering the workforce.

“We think the first place to start addressing this gap is by training more young women to code. Our campaign partners and the individuals who are supporting us via the crowdfund [help] us to bring some incredible young women into the tech and digital workforce.”

In addition to training, the business is building a community platform to support the course alumnae, enabling access to a pool of 20,000 young women who have completed the coding course and are wanting to explore career opportunities in tech and digital.

To achieve this goal, and on top of the funds raised from key partners, Code First: Girls is opening a £25k crowdfunding campaign.

Anyone with a passion for the cause can take part, by making a financial pledge to support the campaign, or even gift a course to a young women.

It has been said that women’s shares in the tech sector have fallen from 33 per cent in 2002 to 27 per cent now.

According to the UK Office of National Statistics in 2017, looking at tech and telco professionals in the UK, only 3.9 per cent were female programmers and software developers, a number that has gone down from 10 per cent in 2007.

Campaign ambassadors already supporting the campaign include co-founder of, Baroness Martha Lane Fox; Dame Stephanie Shirley; founder of Tech Global Advocates Russ Shaw, and president of Tech UK Jacqueline De Rojas.

So far, Code First: Girls has taught over 5000 women to code in the past three years.

Tech UK’s president, Jacqueline De Rojas, concluded: “The Code First: Girls 2020 campaign is a vital ingredient in enabling the younger generation to feel empowered to choose from the hugely varied careers available in tech.

“Whenever I walk into a room where I can see girls coding to create and imagine new applications, I am truly inspired to keep working for a future powered by these exciting, bright minds.”

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