Tech Company Seeks Industry Support for Scottish Prison Coding Programme
Code4000’s Scottish prison coding programme aims to replicate the success of a similar initiative in the US, The Last Mile project.
Code4000, winner of the 2019 Vodafone Techstarter awards, is seeking industry support to start up its first prison coding workshops in Scotland.
So far, the company is already on course to reach its fundraising target of £150,000 following an initial grant from technology firm Skyscanner. Working in partnership with HMP Edinburgh, the company aims to help prisoners find jobs upon their release by teaching them coding.
The Scottish Prison Service will work closely with the company to facilitate the company’s expansion north of the border, and Code4000 is in the process of raising funds to purchase and install the necessary technical equipment to bring the workshop to life.
The prisoner coding programme aims to replicate the success of a similar initiative in the US. The Last Mile project, which now runs in five US states, teaches prisoners coding skills to prepare them for life outside of prison. Skills development is a critical factor in ensuring that former prisoners secure employment upon release and, in turn, helps to reduce re-offending rates.
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Code4000 already operates in two prisons in the UK, with further plans to launch another five projects by the end of 2019. The firm is also receiving support across the UK to extend its programme to young offenders institutions and female prisons.
Rod Anderson, operations director in Scotland, said: “Getting such a big player like Skyscanner onboard has given us a real boost and now means our first prison coding workshop in Scotland is a very real possibility.
“Being from Scotland myself, I know that our technology industry will be keen to support a programme like this that benefits Scottish companies and communities. It’s an exciting prospect for tech companies to be able to grow their own diverse pool of talent and future-proof their business to meet the needs of the next generation.
In a statement, ScotlandIS said: “In Scotland, but supporting Code400’s programme, the tech industry will be building a sustainable coding programme in Scottish prisons, helping to combat recidivism and, ultimately, making communities safer while offering new opportunities to individuals who may never have thought of a career in the tech sector.”
Longterm, Code4000 aims to expand its coding programmes to a global audience, and the company has already helped similar projects get off the ground in France, Australia and New Zealand. Working with partners such as GitHub, Code4000 is building an open-source, offline coding curriculum that can be used in prison coding projects worldwide.
Code4000 founder and chairman, Michael Taylor, said: “The open-source platform will be made available to anyone that wants to learn the art of coding. Whether that’s prisons with no internet connection or places with poor or unreliable internet connection in the developing world.”