Australian students can now learn to code free of charge on Learnable.com, now that the global online learning company has donated $10 million of technical training.
The ‘Learnable for Schools’ program emerged as a response to the rising demand from both Australian students who want gain technical skills and employers seeking coding talent.
“We’re giving 10,000 students the opportunity to learn from expert teachers, for free. By simply signing up, students get three years access to courses to learn to develop and design websites, apps, and more,” says ‘Learnable for Schools’ General Manager Kyle Vermeulen.
While Australians are quick to adopt new technologies, research suggests that pursuing a career in computer science is not a popular option among young people – with computer science graduates dropping in half over the past 10 years.
“Australia is near the bottom of the OECD in creating students interested Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). I’m concerned that Aussies kids are missing out on the opportunities created by the technology and communications revolutions,” says Learnable Co-founder and Melbourne based start-up investor Leni Mayo.
If we don’t teach our kids the skills we need as a nation, we run the risk of being left behind.”
He adds that in Vietnam, computer science education begins in the fourth grade, and coding has recently been introduced into the primary school curriculum in the UK.
“If Australia wants to be globally competitive it is vital we include programming in schools as early as possible,” says Mayo.
Part of the problem, Mayo speculates, may be the attitudes around computer science being a difficult subject to grasp for the ordinary person.
“The web is a very diverse place and you can go a long way without being a rocket scientist. Culturally, if we think of coding as hard and only suited to geniuses, then we’re creating a barrier that is difficult to overcome. The best way to make progress is to get started,” he says.
In a recent jobs report by CareerCast, “Software Engineer” ranked in the top three jobs – thanks to low stress, great work environments, and high pay – though Australian companies are still struggling to find qualified programmers.
Learnable believes there’s no better time to learn how to code than now.
“We want to give students a head start in carving out a career in the technology sector, with absolutely zero barrier to entry. Our hope is that some of them go on to build the next Twitter or Facebook,” says Vermeulen.
The Learn to Code initiative is backed by Mark Harbottle, BRW’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year and Founder of successful 99designs.com.
“For me, learning to code in year 11 set my career in motion. This program will help pave the way for future Australian entrepreneurs,” Harbottle says.
The ‘Learnable for Schools’ program has kicked off and the first 10,000 Australian Students to sign up will get 3 years of free access to Learnable.com.
More information is available on www.learnable.com/students.