A new after-school club, Jersey Coders, has been overwhelmed by demand from teenagers wanting to join and learn coding and IT skills. The club, which is the only one on the island aimed at teenagers, has had to start a waiting list for new members, and now needs more mentors to help with the demand.
The club was set up by a parent frustrated by the lack of opportunity for technically minded teenagers. It is a not-for-profit charity that is aiming to inspire the island’s young people and ensure Jersey has a strong digital future.
The club is completely free thanks to sponsorship from JT and the support of Digital Jersey. Second-hand laptops have also been generously donated by C5, BNP Paribas and FCJ school.
Jersey Coders Chair, Gwyn Garfield-Bennett said it has been an exciting start to the club: ‘We have a fantastic group of mentors who are sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with the club members, but we need more as I am being emailed daily by parents of teenagers wanting to get involved. We’ve got two informal groups within the club, one group is working on website design and the other is learning how to code games. We need more mentors, particularly with gaming skills, willing to give up just a couple of hours a week, to come and share their enthusiasm and knowledge with the teenagers.’
JT is currently not only providing sponsorship, but also facilities for the club whilst Digital Jersey finishes its Digital Learning Hub. Several JT staff have volunteered as mentors and Dave Newbold, Chief Operation and Technology Officer with JT sits on the Jersey Coders committee: ‘This club is exactly what Jersey needs to invest in its digital future. Coding hasn’t played much of a part in the school curriculum in recent years and yet there are plenty of teenagers keen to learn. If we want to build a strong digital future for the island then we need the skilled workforce. At JT we are putting in the infrastructure to make this possible, and in a few year’s time we hope some of the Jersey Coders club members will leave school and be a part of our island’s digital future. The enthusiasm and energy in the club is fantastic, it is great to be able to pass on some of our experience and knowledge to youngsters who are keen to learn and innovate.’
The club meets one evening a week, and there is an informal and relaxed structure to the sessions with teaching and practice sessions. Members will be encouraged to work on their own projects with mentor help and expert guidance.
It is also hoped that in future the club will become a ‘digital hothouse’ for young talent to grow and develop their own ideas. During the year there will be competitions and prizes and it’s hoped a Hackathon will be arranged.