Multi-award winning social enterprise Code First: Girls has launched its 2020 campaign to teach 20,000 young women how to code for free by the end of 2020.

Code First: Girls is working with campaign partners and backers from some of the world’s leading employers including KKR and OVH to train young women at the start of their careers from across the UK and Ireland how to code.

The programme will offer training support to employees from the partner companies, with the opportunity to train their young female staff as well as gift free coding courses on the partner's behalf to young women at other charitable institutions.

In addition to the training, Code First: Girls is building a community platform to help the course alumnae which will enable the 20,000 young women to learn from and support each other.

It also gives the campaigns’ top tier partners access to a pool of 20,000 young women who have completed the coding course and are wanting to explore career opportunities in tech and digital.

To achieve this goal, and on top of the funds raised from key partners, Code First: Girls is opening a £25,000 crowdfunding campaign.

Any members of the public with a passion for the cause take part in the project by making a financial pledge to support the campaign, or even gifting a course to a young woman.

Women are currently underrepresented in the U.K. technology sector and their share in the sector has fallen from 33 per cent in 2002 to 27 per cent today.

Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls, said: "We’re truly delighted to launch our 20K by 2020 programme.

"The initiative addresses a critical qualifications gap in the job market and has the potential to rapidly improve the UK economy in a significant way.

"In the UK, between 2011 and 2015, the number of digital tech jobs across the UK grew by 17 per cent. That is more than twice the 8 per cent growth seen in non-digital sectors.

"And with digital jobs paying 44 per cent more than the national average, and 50 per cent of the UK’s digital tech community highlighting a shortage of highly skilled employees, the need for tech and digital talent is massively exceeding the pool of qualified individuals entering the workforce.

"We think the first place to start addressing this gap is by training more young women to code.

"Our research shows that one of the biggest barriers to women entering the tech industry is education, and our 20:20 campaign is designed to address this by providing skills that are critical to the digital economy.

"Our campaign partners and the individuals who are supporting us via the crowdfund are not only helping us to bring some incredible young women into the tech and digital workforce, but also helps us to support growth to UK businesses with their talent needs through increasingly challenging times."

Jean-Pierre Saad, director in KKR’s TMT team in London said: "KKR is a major tech investor both in the UK and around the world, so we know first-hand how important technology is to the future success and prosperity of the U K and Europe.

"More generally, coding is becoming an increasingly important skill that should be available equally to all, regardless of gender.

"We are hence delighted to partner with a pioneering organisation like Code First: Girls and support them in tackling gender diversity in tech which we believe will drive better outcomes for businesses and our communities."

Campaign ambassadors already supporting the campaign include co-founder of Lastminute.com Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Dame Stephanie Shirley, founder of Tech Global Advocates Russ Shaw and president of Tech UK Jacqueline De Rojas.

Code First: Girls has already taught more than 5,000 women to code in the past three years.