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£1.2m supports Cardiff coders

1 May 2018

Coding lesson

Cardiff and Swansea Universities are to receive £1.2m to support their role in the UK-wide Institute for Coding.

The funding will help create the next generation of digital specialists, Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams has announced [Tuesday, 1 May].

The investment is on top of a £1.3m drive to connect Welsh pupils with coding, Cracking the Code, which was announced last year.

Research from 2016 showed the digital sector employs 40,000 people and is worth over £8.5 billion in turnover to the Welsh economy.  

Cardiff and Swansea Universities will benefit from the funding, allocated via HEFCW, which will include £0.2m to support coding initiatives in schools, colleges and universities.  

The Institute of Coding has been established by UK Government to serve as a national focus for improving digital skills provision.  It includes universities, businesses and industry experts including IBM, Cisxo, BT and Microsoft.  

The funding will pay for computers and associated equipment for Technocamps labs which provide hands on experience for teachers and learners on a range of coding activities and tools.  It will also fund schools/business liaison officers, and the establishment of community engagement code clubs run by the National Software Academy.

The NSA is already making strides to plug the skills gap. It offers students a unique learning experience through its industry focussed teaching programme. Students work on real-life projects with industry experts with a view to making them ‘work-ready’ once they graduate.”

Professor Stuart Allen, Head of School, Computer Science and Informatics, Cardiff University said: “The Institute of Coding builds on the successful partnership between the University’s National Software Academy, Welsh Government and industry leaders, to address the national shortage of skilled programming and software engineering graduates. Its focus on developing skills and knowledge through hands-on experience on industry led projects is producing sought after graduates ready to step straight into careers as commercial software engineers.”

Computer code is a set of rules or instructions used to create computer software, apps, and websites. Mastering coding enables users to becoming authors of technology.

Since announcing Cracking the Code, over 200 teachers have undergone training in coding. Across Wales, in 2017/18, Technocamps delivered around 200 workshops to over 5,250 pupils in 85 primary and 25 secondary schools.

David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: ““The funding will allow universities to run new and revised degree programmes in Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, with considerably increased opportunities to access work experience. This will have a significant impact on Wales’s ‘supply-chain’ of coders: from upskilling teachers and running computer science workshops to delivering work-ready technical graduates. Through student STEM ambassadors, universities will help to break down barriers to participation, providing more opportunities for women to participate in computer science.”

Professor Faron Moller, Director of Technocamps and Lead of the Institute of Coding Wales, said: "With the pan-Wales Technocamps programme, and through novel software engineering apprenticeship courses to full-time employees from companies throughout South Wales, Cardiff and Swansea Universities together represent a powerful force in Wales in addressing the national skills shortage in the digital economy workforce.”

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