Sean Kelly MEP pictured with CoderDojo co-founder Bill Liao and CoderDojo Global CEO, Mary Dunphy Moloney. (Picture: Philippe Veldeman)

CoderDojo has won the prestigious European Citizen’s Prize, following a nomination by Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South). The non-profit network of free coding clubs for youth, which originated in Cork is the only Irish based organisation to win the award this year.

“I want to congratulate CoderDojo, Irish recipient of the European Citizen’s Prize for 2016. The clubs have inspired thousands of children and given them the confidence to pursue a career in technology and entrepreneurship. It is a wonderful success story – a truly deserved accolade,” Mr Kelly said in Brussels last Wednesday, June 1st.

“In 2013, I hosted the first ever EU Dojo event in the European Parliament. At the time, CoderDojo was little over one year old and was active in 10 member states. Now, there are over 500 clubs in 60 countries, 350 of those clubs are Europe-based. That’s remarkable growth,” Mr Kelly said in praising the volunteer-led CoderDojo initiative which was co-founded in by James Whelton and Bill Liao.

“A quarter of Irish people have above average digital skills, slightly lower than the EU average (28pc). However, just 44 percent of the Irish population have basic digital skills – below the EU average of 55pc.

“Meanwhile, it’s estimated that there could be up to 825,000 EU-wide ICT vacancies by 2020, because the workforce lacks specialised technology skills.

“We urgently need to increase the opportunities for young people to study and work in ICT, through the mainstreaming of coding and related ICT skills from early school days and via non-formal education such as CoderDojo.”

Mr Kelly also launched the EU CoderDojo Ambassadors involving MEPs from across Europe acting as ambassadors helping to roll-out more clubs across Europe.

The awards ceremony will be held in the European Parliament, Brussels 12-13 October 2016, while an event will also be organised in Ireland.