#DidYouKnow Europe’s favourite digital skills youth program celebrates a monumental five years of spreading digital knowledge this year? To celebrate this milestone, our key partner Haus des Stiftens gGmbH board member, Clemens Frede, reflects on the last five years and shares his thoughts on the state of Europe’s youth digital skills and the importance of programs like Meet and Code.
- What do you love about Meet and Code?
I love that at Meet and Code, we are ensuring that the youth of today are prepared to grab the digital bull by the horns and forge a career path out for themselves in 2021 and beyond.
This is vital as unfortunately, there is an alarming digital divide amongst youth across Europe and it was for this reason that five years ago Meet and Code was born. Through the events hosted by nonprofits across 35 European countries, are able to inspire and encourage youth while teaching them a broad and creative spectrum of coding techniques and digital skills.
In addition to the Meet and Code events which are hosted annually in September and October, youth are provided access to interactive online webinars, tools and resources which makes the program an ongoing learning experience.
- Meet and Code turned five this year. Tell us about some of the impact to date?
It’s incredible to see what Meet and Code has been able to achieve in 5 years, especially considering that two of those years have been during a global pandemic. Despite this, the statistics and numbers speak for themselves! Since 2017, we have rolled out a staggering 4.245 workshops across the continent.
In 2020, the first year marked with a global pandemic, Meet and Code reached 39,604 participants and was able to provide grants for 1,324 events. With these grants, NPOs are able to bring their event ideas to life which assists in empowering young minds to use technology creatively with fewer limitations.
- What has been your favourite highlight?
The addition of the Code for Europe category in the Meet and Code Awards - which celebrates creative collaboration between NGOs across Europe - has been one of my favourite highlights. The award was scooped up by Belgium and France’s entry called Makers United. The aim of this event was to explore how manufacturing and digital technologies can help address issues arising from environmental and sustainability, health and social reform, which people across Europe are grappling with. Young participants at the event were able to voice their opinions around these issues and suggest solutions.
This event showed that collaboration can transcend national boundaries and value systems, and this embodies our exact mission at Meet and Code.
- Meet and Code reaches far and wide, and even the smallest population towns across Europe. What do you think this means for the future of digital skills and coding?
Digital skills and coding are a universal language which allows Meet and Code to reach and educate youth in 35 European countries. This means that digital literacy can be achieved across socio-economic boundaries and children from all walks of life can be upskilled at any place. So far, we have empowered over 178k youth and counting, with the virtual events we’re hosting in light of Covid-19 improving access even further. As a result, we hope to minimise the digital divide and barriers to accessing digital education minimising while inspiring young people being able to grow careers in the technology sector going forward.
- Looking ahead, what does the program hope to achieve?
I would like to see Meet and Code reach more participants globally and competing with renowned youth digital skills programs in other countries outside of Europe. Thanks to the complete shift to virtual Meet and Code events and workshops in 2020 and 2021, efforts to extend beyond Europe are no longer out of reach!
Behind Meet and Code are the founding partners SAP, Haus des Stiftens gGmbH, and TechSoup Europe with the respective country partners of the TechSoup Europe network. Clemens Frede is a Member of the Management Board at Haus des Stiftens gGmbH. Haus des Stiftens gGmbH facilitates free webinars, IT donations and discounts, investment funds, consultancy amongst donors and non-profit organizations.