Melbourne, May 29: Victorian schools will be the first in Australia to participate in a ground-breaking Microsoft coding program.

Premier Daniel Andrews today landed in Seattle for the first leg of his official tour of the United States, hitting the ground running with the announcement at Microsoft Headquarters this morning.

“Victorian kids will be the first in the country to take part in the Coding Challenge. It’s a fun way to help them learn the tech skills they’ll need for jobs of the future”, Premier Andrews said.

“Victoria is fast becoming the innovation hub of the nation and we want to make sure we’ve got the best and the brightest workforce to attract and retain the world’s leading tech companies and start-ups.”

The Victorian Schools Coding Challenge will be open to all Victorian primary and secondary schools and will be run by Microsoft and the Department of Education and Training.

Students in grades 6, 8 and 10 will have the opportunity to develop and pitch ideas for an app or game and compete against each other across the state.

The inaugural competition will start in Term 3 2016, with winners to showcase their designs during Melbourne Games Week later this year.

The Premier went behind the scenes at the Microsoft campus where innovative designs and programs are tested, and got a demonstration of Microsoft Hololens, an untethered computer that allows the user to interact with high-definition holograms.

Managing Director of Microsoft Australia, Pip Marlow said that it was only the beginning of a campaign of creativity “harnessed through the power of code.

“Through the process of constructing, developing and building apps, students are empowered to follow their dreams – no matter what they want to do.

“By partnering with the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET), we hope to shine a light on how coding in the classroom can be used to solve real-world problems, as well as encourage thousands of young Victorian school students to discover what they’re most passionate about.”

Victoria’s tech industry now generates more than $34 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 91,300 people across the state, with numbers set to grow with demand for tech skills higher than ever before.

Melbourne produces more IT graduates than any other Australian city and the Andrews Government is giving young Victorians every opportunity to be better prepared to step into the high-skill jobs of the future.

Premier Andrews said that he looked “forward to a very productive week in the US where we’ll explore new opportunities for investment and jobs in Victoria, and promote our credentials in technology, infrastructure, tourism and health on the global stage.”

The Premier is touring the United States until 4 June 2016.

feature image: Victorian Premier, Honourable Daniel Andrews MP with Mary Snapp, Corporate VP, Microsoft Philanthropies

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