The ‘Coding Summer School’ by Boeing and ThinkYoung: Supporting digital know-how for the future job market

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More than 50 teenage students learned the basics of programming during the Coding Summer School in July in Brussels.

Boeing and ThinkYoung, who jointly organized the school, are encouraging regulators to put ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’ (STEM) at the center of the educational agenda.

As major industries, including the aerospace sector, continue to digitize their products and operations, information technology skills will be an essential tool in the arsenal of tomorrow’s workforce. From Earth orbiting satellites, to aircraft in the sky and autonomous undersea vehicles, software is essential to enabling Boeing products and services. That is why it is crucial to inspire and encourage the next generation to explore the multi-faceted world of aviation, where digital skills play an increasingly important role.

Employment in the ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’, or STEM, sector has been a driving force of economic growth in the European Union. While total employment between 2000 and 2011 grew by 8%, STEM employment in the same period increased by 34%. Furthermore, in spite of the economic crisis, the employment of STEM professionals was higher in 2013 than it was in 2000. This trend is set to continue, with the employment forecast in STEM-related fields predicted to rise by 6.5% by 2025, and the demand for STEM professionals to be even greater.

It is one thing to talk about the need to make a difference, and it’s something else to actually do something about it. This is why Boeing is proud to have partnered with ThinkYoung on delivering the first Coding Summer School, which taught young people from across the Brussels region fundamental programming skills essential in tomorrow’s workforce – and we did so, in a fun and inclusive environment.

Europe has a rich history in science, mathematics and engineering, with many of these field’s greatest minds emanating from the continent. It is now time that policy makers take steps to recognize the importance of these subjects and place STEM at the center of their agenda. Besides an active support of innovative approaches in a non-formal educational setting, ThinkYoung also sees a need to tackle gender parity issues –  for every 1000 women who currently have a Bachelors or other first degree, only 29 hold a degree in information and communication technology!

We envision a future where students have access to high-quality opportunities, both in education and employment, and are able to develop their digital skills to the highest possible level. And let’s not forget about creativity, another crucial 21st century skill set that is learned through problem solving that students encounter while learning to code. As Boeing celebrates and reflects back on its first century of innovation in aerospace, we call on regulators and policy makers across Europe to join us in providing the next generation of young leaders with the right skillsets needed for future challenges for the aerospace industry and beyond.

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