St. James' Park

Newcastle United will welcome 50 lucky teenagers this summer, following a hunt for the next generation of internet visionaries in the North-East.

Wonga Codemakers, a new initiative from the digital finance company and Club sponsor, is seeking ambitious young people who can go on to shape everything digital - from business and communications, to computer games and mobile apps.

Successful applicants will enjoy a free week's coding camp at St. James' Park, learning programming languages that will enable them to control computers.

Wonga founder and CEO Errol Damelin explained: "This is a non-profit initiative we're launching in partnership with Codecademy.com, the global education company, and Newcastle United's excellent Foundation.

"We're still a young company but we're determined to do something meaningful alongside our business activities and we've already been supporting entrepreneurial endeavours, such as providing thousands of interest-free loans via Kiva.org.

"Our new mission is to get kids coding. It's not always taught in an engaging way in schools, which we think is a shame given the huge demand out there, and learning to code gives people the ability to make a real difference.

"Indeed, we have recruited hundreds of star coders ourselves over recent years and it's a real challenge find the right level of talent for many more roles right now, so we are acutely aware what's needed to succeed."

The pilot programme will kick off with a coding camp for 13 and 14-year-olds, from 29th July to 2nd August. They will be taught by expert technology students and also get to hear from inspirational speakers from the entrepreneurial world.

Initially open to Year 8 and Year 9 pupils, they or their parents can now apply for a place on the camp at http://wongacodemakers.org/. The application process is simple and will remain open until mid-July.

John Irving, financial director at Newcastle United Football Club, said: "We are delighted Wonga has chosen to work with our Foundation on this summer's Codemakers camp.

"Coding is of growing importance in the modern world, with the continuous creation of apps, websites and games, and it is being used ever more frequently in the workplace.

"Wonga are experts in the field and our Foundation already has excellent links with local schools, having last year worked with over 38,000 local young people. This programme, which underlines the club's commitment to the local community, offers another exciting opportunity for young people and we can't wait to get started."

The Wonga Codemakers curriculum has been written by Codecademy and tested with kids around the globe. As a leader in tech education, Codecademy is building the first truly net-native education platform and that expertise is being combined with a football venue and Wonga's practical experience.

Magpies striker Shola Ameobi added: "All the boys in the dressing room are into the latest technology, so it's great that our new Club sponsors are helping the Foundation teach young people on Tyneside how to talk to computers and create the technology of the future."

There has been a 38 per cent fall* in the number of students taking ICT A-levels over the past decade, while IT employment is forecast to increase by 1.6 per cent** every year until 2020. Wonga Codemakers is designed to make a meaningful contribution to bridging this divide.

Errol Damelin continued: "Computer code is a language that few people understand, but it has the power to do so much and we're determined to help fill a gap in school curriculums with an inspiring and accessible programme. The Newcastle camp will allow us to get things started and our vision is to educate and inspire thousands of children over the next few years.

"We'll give successful applicants the skills needed to create working websites from scratch, but we'll also fire their imaginations and make it enjoyable, so this won't be your average IT experience."