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Learnable gives away $10M in coding classes to tackle worker shortage

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Global online learning company Learnable.com says it will give away $10 million worth of technical training to high school students in Australia in hopes of ending the country's shortage of software engineers.

Learnable will give 10,000 students three years of free access to thousands of video courses to learn how to develop and design websites, apps and other computer science skills. Students can take courses on Adobe Photoshop, JavaScript, CSS3, HTML5, Wordpress and Ruby, among others.

Learnable.com said demand from Australian students who want to learn to code and employers seeking those skills prompted the Melbourne-based to provide free training.

The shortage of information and communications technology workers, which at least one top CIO disputes, has pushed up salaries and prompted Australian companies to bring in workers from overseas.

A July 2013 study the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (see graphic) says negative perceptions of information, a lack of female and mature-aged workers with this skill set, a limited number of entry-level positions for persons aged 20 to 24, and an increasing complexity of services is making to difficult to increase the supply of domestic information and communications technology specialists.

Australia is near the bottom of OECD countries in creating students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, said Learnable co-founder and startup investor Leni Mayo.

The so-called Learn to Code Initiative aims to change that. And it likely won't stop in Australia. Learnable says on its website that it's "starting with Australia."

Other countries such as the United States have also struggled to meet demand for workers with computer science skills. There will be a million more computing jobs than computer science students by 2020, according to Code.org. (see graphic below)

Graphic: Code.org

— By on August 19, 2013, 7:55 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure