Orion Health launches Code Club to get kids interested in IT

Prime Minister John Key codes 'Hello World' in JavaScript

In an effort to get school kids excited about IT careers, software company Orion Health has launched an initiative called Code Club.

The online learning tool was shown at the opening of Orion Health’s new headquarters in Auckland last week, with Prime Minister John Key getting a lesson from test team leader Michael Trengrove on coding a ‘Hello World’ program in JavaScript.

Orion Health employs 680 people and currently has 106 job vacancies.

Trengrove says there aren’t enough graduates to meet the IT skill shortage. The company is hoping Code Club will help shift the perception of IT as “being about geeks and nerds working in dimly lit rooms” to a job that is open and collaborative.

The company is working on a web portal where students can learn how to code with a view to earning NCEA credits.

Orion Health managing director Ian McCrae says the company is able to do things that the Ministry of Education can’t.

“As a successful company we can use our brand and we can go and market IT as a great profession that school kids can consider because first of all there are jobs, and second they pay better.”

Computerworld asked John Key if it was an indictment on the education system that companies are creating educational material the schools aren’t providing.

“I think what they’re trying to do is to encourage and excite youngsters to see that there is a real opportunity in technology and IT,” Key replied.

“It’s quite standard for companies around the world to work with their education systems. I think we should celebrate it rather than be offended by it.”

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