Future is Code
Future is Code is an initiative organised by the Digital National Alliance, the Bulgarian National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs, aided by a team of volunteers and with the cooperation of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and regional municipalities. It aims to create links between information and communication technology (ICT) sector experts, digital professionals and secondary school students in order to raise awareness about the prospects of coding and ICT in general as a career path. Launched in 2014, Future is Code's mission is to bring a more down-to-earth perspective on coding and programming , spark interest in the digital sector, and break identified stereotypes surrounding the ICT sector (such as the idea that coding and programming skills are hard to develop without formal education).
The initiative is structured in the form of one-day workshops, in which ICT professionals spend a day at a school, teaching a class in their field of expertise. The main target group are digital experts on one side, and students between the ages from 12 to 18 (regardless of their profile of focus or specialisation). Another focus of Future is Code is schools, with a special focus on secondary schools specialising in humanities and subjects unrelated to mathematics, engineering or science. Workshops can take place also in a more informal setting, where students can feel free to ask questions, raise concerns or start a more personal conversation about interests and ambitions with the visiting expert. On the website can be found links to the EU Code Week initiative, with learning resources on digital skills in Bulgarian, as well as other materials tailored for children and young people. The initiative also aims to involve the growing ICT business sector in Bulgaria by encouraging companies, businesses and start-ups to take part in the not-for-profit initiative too by supporting employees, for example by offering paid transport to and from the school, or counting programme participation towards the working day in an organisational context.
Despite the growth of the ICT sector in Bulgaria in recent years, there is a lack of qualified educators and teachers in the area of information technology (IT) and technology education in Bulgaria, and this issue is more prominent in rural areas and smaller towns. Digital and ICT experts and professionals interested in participating are provided with guidance and examples of how to illustrate technological topics in an understandable way, including ideas for organising a more interactive type of workshop, for instance by getting students to work with Scratch, watch a video on the subject of technology, or touch upon basic logic of programming languages like HTML and CSS. The pilot version of the project took place in 2014 as part of the activities developed in the EU Code Week and has constituted in an initiative with different supporters from the private sector (Microsoft, SAP, HackBulgaria, Oracle, among others) across its different versions.