A report released by the European Commission reveals that 44% of Europeans do not have basic digital skills. With nine out of 10 jobs in the future requiring this, Europe could be facing a massive digital skills gap.

According to Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth, it is necessary to make enormous changes in digital education.

An earnest attempt to increase digital literacy across Europe is what sparked the creation of Meet and Code in 2017, with the aim to ignite interest into the world of technology and coding and empower youth to shape their digital future. Fast forward a few years later and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Meet and Code continues to connect and engage with children and youth and has successfully delivered 1,325 online events across 35 European countries in 2020, reaching more than 39,500 learners from 500 cities.

Europe’s Favorite Digital Skills Youth Initiative Turns Five

Now in its fifth year, Meet and Code returns with an exciting virtual twist. Specially aligned to EU Code Week in October, Meet and Code will support with digital coding events reaching far and wide. Registrations are now open for local non-profits across Europe to submit their coding event concepts for ages eight to 24 and could receive up to €500 in funding. Registration for funding is open until September 8, 2021.

“Since the beginning of time, humans have created with stone, iron, paper, and pencil,” says Alessandro Bogliolo, EU Code Week Ambassadors Coordinator. “Now we live in a different era, where we mold our world in code. During Code Week we want to give everyone the opportunity to discover coding and have fun with it.”

In addition to the online workshops, Meet and Code also hosts an awards ceremony to honor the most creative event ideas to get youth excited about coding. Once again, this year’s initiative will call upon local non-profits to submit their unique coding events linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The most successful workshops will not only be acknowledged and celebrated, but will also receive prize money for their hard work and efforts.

Celebrating EU Code Week, Fabrizia Benini, deputy director of Digital Transformation at the European Commission says, “In October, EU Code Week will again celebrate creativity, problem solving, and innovation and bring coding to millions of young people in Europe and beyond. A special focus will be placed on reaching schools. To empower as many young people as possible, EU Code Week collaborates with organizations such as Meet and Code.”

Five Ways Tech-Savvy Youth Can Shape the Future

Digital technologies are a staple in everyday life; they are also transforming European schools and classrooms. Youth today need digital skills to be ready for the future. The 21st century is centered around computational technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics.

Coding is one way to expose youth to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics from an early age so that they can develop skills and expertise to fulfill their professional and personal aspirations.

  1. Coding teaches programming fundamentals and formal logic. At its core, children learn how to break down a problem into essential elements and create a solution. Coding sharpens problem-solving skills and increases focus.
  2. Coding prepares kids for an increasingly technology-based future. Many jobs involve understanding the limitations and capabilities of code — from design to e-commerce, architecture, and data science.
  3. Coding provides an empowering skill set and supports developing confidence. In a world that is constantly asking us to adapt to new technologies and digital innovations, children who code will better understand what software they use, what it can do, and why.
  4. Learning how to code helps children better understand how the world around them works, because code is used in everyday life.
  5. Coding is one of the most widely used languages in the world. If a child can learn computational thinking and design patterns while learning to code, they will be able to code in any coding language.

Behind Meet and Code are founding partners SAP, Haus des Stiftens gGmbH, and TechSoup Europe, with the respective country partners of the TechSoup Europe network. In 2020, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) joined as a European partner. Haus des Stiftens gGmbH is responsible for the overall initiative.

Coding is one of the many digital tools that is redefining the youth and changing the world as we know it

Inspired to bring a change? Find out more about Meet and Code, apply for funding, and get involved by visiting www.meet-and-code.org. Connect on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtags #SAP4Good #MeetandCode and #CodeEU.

Adam Hunter is communications lead for SAP CSR EMEA.