Ireland cracks the code to be EU digital trailblazer

Eoin Manning,11, and Lauren Boyle, 10, with Julie Cullen, the Irish ambassador for, EU Code Week which aims to encourage children and students to give coding a go. It's backed by Microsoft.Picture: Naoise Culhane

Ireland copper fastened its reputation as a digital trailblazer this month, having organised in excess of 500 individual events for European Code Week — more than any other participating country.

The aim of the initiative is to highlight the importance of computer coding, especially in relation to future generations, and encourage people to improve their digital skills.

It also seeks to showcase the fun side of coding and dispel the myth that you have to be a genius to code.

Julie Cullen, a teacher in St Oliver’s Community College in Drogheda and the Irish ambassador for EU Code Week, stressed the importance of teaching people digital skills.

She said: “We are interacting with computers, apps, and games every single day.

“It is important that we learn how to code so that we can make technology work for us. Digital skills are becoming a necessity in every line of work. Learning to code gives us a better chance of seeing our great ideas come to life.”

Ciarán Cannon TD, one of the drivers of Ireland’s Code Week, said overall the country had a very high standard of coding practice and said he was pleased with the level of participation from schools and clubs.

He said: “This is a very bright indicator of the potential for Ireland to be the coding hub of Europe and the implications of this for our island nation is huge.”

For the second year in a row, Ireland has held more events for Code Week than any other European country. Given the size and population of Ireland, the final tally of 509 events nationwide is particularly impressive.

Greece had the next highest number of events with 450; France and Spain had just over 200 events each; while Germany hosted 68. Our neighbours in Britain hosted just 54.

It is estimated that basic coding skills will be needed for many jobs in the near future.

More than 90% of professional occupations currently require some ICT competence. At the moment, there are an estimated 4,000 open vacancies in Ireland in the ICT sector, despite high levels of unemployment.

If these figures persist, Ireland could face a shortage of up to 900,000 ICT professionals as soon as 2020.


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