The Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) programme was designed in partnership with educational experts to offer free activities for Belgian youth, for individual or classroom use. We understand the transformative power of education, believing it has the ability to inspire creativity and unlock human potential. Amazon Future Engineer, which aims to increase access to STEM education for students from underrepresented communities, already exists in other countries and has reached 3.2 million students globally since its launch in 2018.
When looking at the field of tech since 2019, studies show that the vacancy rate in the Belgian IT sector has doubled, reaching 9%, the highest in Europe. This is due to the demand for IT competencies increasing exponentially, while gender equality and the number of people with the right skills and diplomas remains low.
“To face the IT talent shortage, computer science has been made a mandatory topic in the school curriculum, and material investments have been made by the government to equip schools. The main issue remains training teachers and students in computer science skills,” said Eva Faict, Country Manager, Amazon.com.be. “With Amazon Future Engineer, we want to make our contribution by empowering the next generation, closing gaps, and creating opportunities in digital technology right here in Belgium.”
The first part of the AFE programme is structured around the discovery of the careers of the future and computer science education. In Belgium, we are starting the programme with two 100% digital resources, free and accessible to all: Citizen Code Python and virtual tour in one of our robotic fulfilment centres.
Coding with Citizen Code Python through modules and gamification
Citizen Code Python is a free online educational game, intended to train young people aged 9 to 17 in computer science with, as a result, Open Badges certifying the skills acquired. Once the students have completed the series of exercises of Citizen Code Python, they receive Open Badges as a digital certification.
Citizen Code Python is presented in the form of a fun, 100% free course: to develop their city, the players must code its elements in Python (a high-level programming language). For beginners who would have difficulty launching directly into programming in Python, the programme provides the possibility of coding with blocks (Blockly), an alternative which allows users to acquire algorithmic logic. The programme is divided into seasons, with six episodes in the first season. To progress in the adventure, students must achieve the objective of the first episode before moving on to the next. At each key stage, the players can change the appearance of their avatar with customisation elements and make their city grow. At the end of the season, they receive two Open Badges attesting to the skills acquired: one for Python and one for Blockly.
The educational, fun and interactive adventure also offers a mode which allows teachers to better exploit the game in progress. With Citizen Code Python's built-in classroom mode, teachers can create accounts for their students quickly and easily, just by choosing a username and password. A student who already has an account can also join a class using a code provided to the teacher by the site. Teachers can then assign coding exercises to students and monitor their progress, guiding them in their learning using new educational materials.
A virtual journey into an Amazon robotic distribution centre
Launched in parallel with AFE, a virtual tour of an Amazon robotic distribution centre is also part of our commitment to making more and more young people aware of digital opportunities, through remotely accessible content. “We want every young person in Belgium to be able to benefit from our content, regardless of their financial or geographic situation. Like Citizen Code Python, the virtual tour was designed with this in mind, in order to offer a solution accessible to everyone, at any time and completely free,” said Eva Faict.
Filmed in our robotic distribution centre in France, the virtual tour lasts 50 minutes and presents all the logistical stages of preparing an order, from purchase to delivery to the customer. The visit is punctuated by interactive questions to test participants' knowledge. It also allows them to become familiar with IT and STEM professions, by listening to testimonials from Amazonians.
Beyond acquiring a better understanding of the technologies used in logistics, this AFE module was created – like all the content of the programme – to open new perspectives to young people by showing them the diversity of careers available to them.
Open to all, without prior registration, the tour is recommended for middle and high school students. It is accessible via the AFE programme website and hosted by Kahoot!, the independent gamified learning platform.
Like Citizen Code Python, the distribution centre tour can be done individually or as part of a class. To help teachers make the most of this new module, AFE has provided an educational guide with useful information for leading a class in the tour.