Term two of the 2015 school year delivers the opportunity to join one of three new clubs being set up for Tauranga’s children to learn to programme computers (write code).

The clubs, which it is hoped, will be the first of many spread throughout Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, will be run by volunteers in schools and community centres. The clubs are supported by a national network known as Code Club Aotearoa introduced to the Bay of Plenty community and co-ordinated locally by Venture Centre.

“Teachers who understand coding is an essential skill for the future have neither the curriculum nor the time to integrate it into their schools timetable” says Steven Vincent, co-founder of Venture Centre.

“What’s more IT specialists from Corporates, Tertiary institutions, freelancers and also later stage IT students want to practise and pass on their skills by helping other people learn. Code Club Aotearoa is a way to bring all these people together to the benefit of all.”

The location for the first three clubs are now available on the Code Club Aotearoa website and times and dates for the clubs will also be announced on the Venture Centre website as they become available. These first clubs were organised through a public meeting held earlier this month which saw Tauranga City librarians offer their time and the libraries themselves as venues, and teachers, IT professionals and parent volunteers step forward to start the clubs next term.

“These clubs solve the problem of no coding in NZ schools” comments Michael Trengrove, Code Club Aotearoa founder who came to Tauranga for the launch meet.

“In the UK coding is mandatory from year 1! Here in New Zealand it is socially conscious corporates, local communities and parents who are driving the development of these skills, not local or national government, or indeed formal education institutions. So Code Club makes sure people with various skills can team up to make it happen,” he continues.

“Children get to learn by doing alongside people that use these skills most days, or have a real passion for them, rather than learning to code ending up a another dry, learn-by-rote subject area for already over-stretched teachers to get their heads around and teach.”

Lesley, parent of a 9 year old, who attended the event to launch Code Club in Tauranga said, “I realise the importance of coding but it is not on offer at my sons school so I came here to help get something started. It needed to happen here somewhere soon. We’re lucky to have people here making these things happen“.

The Venture Centre team have already tested local interest in computing programming. They brought together over 200 locals – children, parents, teachers, librarians and IT professionals – to participate in coding events over the last 5 months.

In December ‘Hour of Code’ attracted over 70 people for a fun introduction to programming. During the Christmas school holidays over 110 children took part in a series of 30 two hour Codebrite workshops held at Basestation. “And those numbers don’t include the IT professionals, council employees and teachers who got involved. Code Club Aotearoa is the next step in building a solid foundation for our local children to learn skills which are critical to their future, and the future of New Zealand” says Venture Centre's Mr Vincent.

Growth in the number of computer programmers and software developers employed in recent years has increased in Tauranga and New Zealand as a whole. There is strong projected employment growth of around 4.8% per year from 2013-18 and 4.3% per year to 2023 according to Immigration New Zealand who is focused on importing talent to fill the gap actively encouraging skilled people from overseas to work in New Zealand.

“It all adds up to one thing – opportunity”, says Jo Allum, also a co-founder of Venture Centre.
“Opportunity for our kids, for our community and for our city. If we can galvanise collective action, really getting people focused around sharing skills and knowledge with the common goal of the health, wealth and prosperity of the next generation, Tauranga can grow its own future focused talent with initiatives like Code Club. And in turn Tauranga can truly become a place people want to live, just to be part of this community and get access to these opportunities!”


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