In recognition of World Youth Skills Day 2017, Vodafone announced plans to provide teenage girls across 26 countries, including 14 to 18-year-old girls in Qatar, with coding training.

In what is the largest international, in-person global coding programme of its kind, Vodafone will partner with Code First: Girls, a UK-based group which runs coding courses for women and girls, to provide five-day, coding workshops for teenage girls across its geographical footprint in Europe, India, the Middle East, South Africa and Australasia. In Qatar, girls will gain places on the free coding programme starting October 2017.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) expressed concerns that female participation is falling in a field that is expanding globally. Men still dominate the number of STEM graduates in most countries. In 2014, around 22% of UK graduates in science, mathematics and computing were women. The gap was wider in Germany (19.3%), France (21.5%) and Switzerland (14.7%). And in 2015, around 19% of female students in Qatar were STEM graduates. STEM fields also have fewer women on boards than any other sectors.

Vodafone’s coding course with Code First: Girls has been created to be suitable for all girls ages 14 to 18 years old, irrespective of their skills. It will provide basic knowledge of computer languages and development programmes including html, CSS, GitHub and Bootstrap, enabling the students to develop a website by the end of the one-week training programme. Vodafone will be partnering with schools across its markets. Girls whose schools are not involved can also register their interest here. The course will run across Vodafone’s markets from July until October this year.

Coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across industries as an increasing number of businesses now rely on computer code. Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology, such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, while recent research found that coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of commanding a high salary.

Under Qatar National Vision 2030, the country detailed goals to move from its reliance to hydrocarbon resources towards a Knowledge-Based Economy by the year 2030; at the heart of these plans are the STEM fields. However, there is a shortage of trained Qatari citizens in critical STEM fields.

Vodafone Qatar CEO Ian Gray said that in recent years, there has been significant progress in closing the global gender gap in various aspects of society.

However, in many countries, the gap is widening in STEM careers. Vodafone’s coding programme with Code First: Girls is designed to give girls an interest in a sector currently more popular with boys, helping widen their opportunities and increase their future career choices. We are very excited to bring the programme to Qatar in support of Qatar National Vision 2030.’

Empowering women and helping young people increase their skillset through technology are two important areas of focus for Vodafone as part of the company’s 10-year sustainable business goals. By 2025, Vodafone’s ambition is to be the best employer for women. The company is also seeking to connect 50 million women living in emerging markets to help improve their lives and livelihoods.

For more information about Code First: Girls programme, you can visit their website at