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Gates, Zuckerberg champion computer programming in a new nonprofit video

Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey lobby for the teaching of computer coding in a new video produced by the nonprofit group Code.org.

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The Partovis' campaign comes at a time tech executives warn of a new digital divide emerging between job-seekers who possess programming skills and those who do not. They also point to statistics showing that while coding jobs are among some of the most well-paid, especially in Silicon Valley, there remains a dearth of computer engineers, who are recruited aggressively by companies like Google and Facebook.

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But there have also been strong signs recently that government officials are increasingly raising the issue of technical education, beginning at the secondary level.

In his state of the union speech this month, President Obama vowed to redesign US high schools to meet "the demands of a high-tech economy," while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week introduced a new computer programming pilot program for 20 schools.

Hadi Partovi, who financed the video with his brother, lined up endorsements from Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and American Federation of Teachers union leader Randi Weingarten, although they did not appear on camera. The 10-minute video was directed by Lesley Chilcott, the producer behind the documentaries "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Waiting for Superman."

Partovi said he hoped to eventually raise money to fund programming courses in low-income school districts and perhaps even advocate for certain policy reforms that champion computer science education. In California, he noted for example, computer science courses are not counted toward high school graduation requirements.

"We owe our success in business to having learned to code," Hadi Partovi said.

Although the video mostly contains interviews with tech entrepreneurs and has familiar startup scenes – like shots of young employees skateboarding inside startup offices – there are some unexpected appearances by pop celebrities, including Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh and Will.i.am, a part-time startup investor himself.

"Great coders are today's rock stars," the music producer, sitting in his recording studio, says into the camera.

But what is considered a truism in Silicon Valley may not be apparent elsewhere, Hadi Partovi said.

"Middle America doesn't realize it's an issue," he said. "We can't solve the problem until we realize it exists."

(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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