17 Jun 2017

Digital Xtra Fund Trustee Polly Purvis honoured with OBE

Polly Purvis, founding Trustee of the Digital Xtra Fund has been honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017.

Polly who is CEO of technology trade body ScotlandIS and chair of digital skills academy CodeClan was recognised for her services to the Digital Economy in Scotland. In an interview with The Scotsman, Polly stated that she was both ‘delighted and surprised to receive the award.’

Everyone associated with the Digital Xtra Fund would like to extend their congratulations to Polly.

Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL

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14 Jun 2017

Digital Xtra Announces New Fund of £50K to support digital skills projects

Projects that teach digital technologies skills to young people could be in line for a financial boost as the Digital Xtra Fund announces its first new fund since becoming a charity.

The new fund of £50,000 will be available for projects that inspire young people by taking digital skills out of the classroom and teaching concepts like computational thinking, coding, digital making, or data science in a fun environment. Applications open on 16 June and each project can apply for up to £5000.

The Digital Xtra Fund was created in 2016 to fund a variety of projects, all with an aim to foster a new generation of digital makers who will, in future, bridge the skills gap in Scotland’s digital economy.

It is seeking applications for innovative, adaptable, and sustainable projects, particularly those that engage with groups such as girls and young women, who are underrepresented in the digital sector. Its ultimate aim is to increase the number of young people from all backgrounds entering highly skilled digital careers.

The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy sets out plans to increase the number of people in digital technology roles to 150,000 by 2021. Increasing digital participation and preparing young people for the future by improving digital skills levels is an integral component of this strategy. Career opportunities are significant, with an estimated 12,800 job opportunities available in Scotland annually.

Kraig Brown, Partnerships and Development Manager for the Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Our aim is to drive innovation and engagement through a large network of digital skills providers across Scotland, including teachers running clubs outside school hours, as well as helping create links between industry and skills providers.

“Most importantly, we want to improve digital skills among young people by supporting high-quality extracurricular activities; thereby preparing them better for a digital future and inspiring them to consider a career in digital tech.

“Projects funded by the Digital Xtra Fund have done fantastic work that has reached thousands of young people across the country already. This is our first new fund since we received official charitable status so we’d like to thank everyone who has supported us to get here.”

The Digital Xtra Fund was originally established with funding from the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership before being spun out as an independent charity in March 2017.

£400,000 was already awarded to 22 projects in 2016, reaching an impressive 15,000 young people across the country. Past projects include the Little Lighthouse project, which used the context of lighthouses to introduce ‘little engineers’ to STEM concepts, as well as ComputerXplorers who delivered Micro:bit Workshops to S1 pupils in a selection of high schools in East Lothian as well as providing CPD (Continuing Professional Development) sessions for teachers.

Supporters in the private and public sector include BT Scotland, Be Positive, Edge Testing, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, ScotlandIS, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The closing date for applications is 1 September and awardees will be chosen by a panel of experts made up of key players in Scotland’s tech industry. Funding will be awarded to the successful projects in mid-October 2017.

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02 May 2017

Directory of Resources added to Digital Xtra Fund web site

The team at Digital Xtra Fund have added a useful directory resource to the web site. The new section contains details of the major organisations delivering digital activities to young people across Scotland.

If you are seeking details on starting a Code Club in your area, finding a mentor to come and talk to a class or wish to run an App competition in your School then this directory is a very good place to start!

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18 Apr 2017

Digital & Tech Role Models & Mentors required for School Age Girls

A call to Women In Scotland’s Tech & Digital Sector – consider becoming role models and mentors to inspire the next generation!

Whether you’re a school leaver on a training course, a recent graduate, or early in your tech career, please volunteer to become role models and mentors for school age girls! By becoming a role model, you will be making an important contribution to the future of the digital technology sector and helping improve the economic prosperity of Scotland.

Girl Geek Scotland and Skills Development Scotland are holding a series of training webinars to get you started, show you how to use the available resources, and help you know what to expect, so you can go into schools confident you are fully prepared.

You will learn how to talk to teenagers about digital technology and gender discrimination and why both are important. You will learn how to create engaging presentations and interactive learning experiences while developing your communication skills and enhancing your professional capabilities and relationships.

The webinar will cover:
● how to engage a teenage audience,
● why digital technology is important and the range of jobs available,
● why we have a gender problem in digital technology,
● why it is important to get more girls into technology,
● how to talk about jobs in digital technology so that they appeal to girls,
● how young people can get into the industry,
● how to use and tailor the provided resources,
● how to construct and deliver interactive learning experiences,
● what practical information and logistics you need before visiting schools,
● how to become a role model or mentor.

All the webinars will cover the same material but places are limited so please select a time that is suitable for you.

The Free Webinars are available 0n:

● Thursday 27th April (19:30)
● Thursday 4th May (12:30)
● Tuesday 9th May (10:00)
● Saturday 13th May (13:00)

You can book webinar tickets via Eventbrite HERE

These webinars will use Google Hangouts to enable the widest possible audience. It’s available online and for both iOS and Android mobile phones. The link to the Google Hangouts will be shared with ticket holders the week before the webinar takes place.

It would also be appreciated if you could complete a short survey prior to the seminar as this will aid Girl Geeks Scotland and Skills Development Scotland to understand what we can do to support and motivate you in your role.

The survey can be found HERE

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29 Mar 2017

Minister unveils Digital Xtra Fund as Scotland’s first dedicated digital skills charity for young people

The Digital Xtra Fund has become Scotland’s first charity dedicated to supporting a full range of digital skills initiatives for young people aged 16 and under after receiving official charitable status from Scottish charity regulator, OSCR.

Digital Xtra is now calling on Scotland’s tech industry to contribute donations, sponsorships and offers of in kind support to ensure that extracurricular digital initiatives are available to young people wherever they live and whatever their background.

Funding has also been provided by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership, whose partners include Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council, Education Scotland, ScotlandIS, and industry representatives.

The announcement was made by Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, speaking in Glasgow at Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together 2017.

A key objective of the new charity is to promote gender balance by encouraging more girls to engage in digital and consider STEM subjects while in school.

Ms Somerville said: “The Digital Xtra Fund is an example of the Scottish Government’s determination to close the digital skills gap faced by all sectors across the economy.

“Investment in the digital skills of our young people is crucial to Scotland’s future which is why we are extremely proud to fund Digital Xtra which has been a key partnership project from the Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan.

“We must provide opportunities for our children and young people to develop their digital skills from a young age and Digital Xtra is doing just that, offering thousands of young people opportunities to strengthen their skills in this area through engagement in a range of innovative projects.”

The new Scottish Government Digital Strategy sets out its ambition to create conditions in which Scotland can increase the number of people employed in digital technology roles to 150,000 by 2021.

Increasing digital participation and preparing your people for the digital future by improving digital skills levels will be an integral component of this strategy. Career opportunities are significant, with an estimated 12,800 job opportunities available in Scotland annually.

The Digital Xtra Fund is appealing for support from companies that wish to support young people and want to see a coordinated, sustainable and inclusive approach, gaining maximum value from coalescing funds.

BT Scotland and Be Positive are two of the first industry supporters to have made a contribution to the Digital Xtra Fund.

Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, said: “Digital skills are increasingly seen as a prerequisite, as important to the prospects of young people today as reading and writing. It’s essential our young people are equipped with the skills they need for the world of work, and the public, private and voluntary sectors all have a contribution to make in giving them the best possible chances.”

He continued: “Supporting Digital Xtra will help us build a culture of tech literacy, as BT works to reach five million young people across the UK by 2020. We hope many Scottish businesses will join us in backing the Digital Xtra Fund.”

Vicky Di Ciacca, Director at Be Positive, said: “It is vitally important that all young people are equipped to take on the challenge of our increasingly digital world. We are a small business and expect our future employees to lead the way when it comes to technology and how to harness it. Regardless of an individual’s ambitions and aspirations, digital skills are integral to engaging in the world of work and beyond.”

Digital Xtra will work to build stronger links between young people and Scotland’s tech industry, promote the range of pathways into the tech sector, and broaden the talent pipeline by targeting underrepresented groups.

The Digital Xtra Fund was launched in May 2016, and has to date distributed £400,000 to organisations delivering extracurricular activities, with funding provided by the partners of the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership.

The 22 projects funded so far are expected to reach 15,000 school pupils across every local authority area in Scotland. Funded initiatives include the training of over 140 librarians to deliver Code Clubs, the expansion of Apps for Good across Scotland and initiatives that use the design of lighthouses to introduce ‘little engineers’ to STEM concepts.

Phil Worms, Computing and Schools Project Lead at ScotlandIS, said: “It’s our aim to ensure that young people of all ages and backgrounds throughout Scotland have the opportunity to develop the skills required to thrive in our digital world. We need to inspire our younger generations, especially girls, in technology and digital. The Digital Xtra Fund charity will not only help us achieve this but will also offer tangible support to our education sector and act as a vehicle for industry support. ”

Paul Zealey, Digital Xtra Fund trustee and Skills Planning Lead at SDS, said: “Digital Xtra’s work to date is incredibly impressive, having impacted the lives of thousands of young people across Scotland as they become engaged and inspired by our digital world. We are off to a great start with the funding that Digital Xtra has already received and we hope that this will encourage others to follow suit and show their support for the charity.”

Joyce MacLennan, Head of Finance and Business Services at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We need to offer opportunities for all of Scotland’s future young workforce to develop digital skills, especially young people in more rural areas who struggle to attend events or access activities. Digital Xtra helps overcome barriers, increase participation and explore opportunities to extend the reach of successful projects.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. A Board of trustees has been appointed to set the strategic direction of the charity and evaluate and review the initiatives that will receive funding. This expert panel is made up of representatives from across Scotland’s digital technology industry, including iomart, Fujitsu, Dogfi.sh Mobile, SCVO, ScotlandIS and Skills Development Scotland.

2. The Digital Xtra Fund will announce its plans and application processes in the near future, and it expects to welcome applications from existing initiatives looking to expand their activities, as well as from new and innovative projects that could be rolled out further in future. All applicants must be able to demonstrate potential for scalability and sustainability, as well as showing how they will reach previously underrepresented groups.

3. Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) registered in Scotland SC047272

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23 Mar 2017

Digital Xtra Fund shortlisted for Digital Tech Awards

Digital Xtra Fund has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Education Provider/Training Programme category, sponsored by Administrate, at this year’s ScotlandIS Digital Tech Awards.

The category recognises inspirational, practical and effective education and training solutions that identify and maximise the skills required for today’s business.

The Digital Xtra Fund was launched in May 2016 and has distributed £400,000 to organisations delivering extracurricular computing and digital activities to under 16s across Scotland.

Partners of the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership have provided the funding to date.

So far 22 projects have been funded by Digital Xtra and are expected to reach 15,000 school pupils across every local authority area in Scotland in digital activities. Funded initiatives have included the training of over 140 librarians to deliver CodeClubs, the expansion of Apps for Good across Scotland through to the use of lighthouse design to introduce ‘little engineers’ to STEM concepts.

CodeClan and The Data Lab are recognised as the other finalists in this award category.

CodeClan, which operates in Edinburgh and Glasgow, is Scotland’s first dedicated software skills academy designed to teach graduates core coding skills over a 16 week period. Many of the students find employment at the end of the course. Data Lab enables new collaborations between industry, public sector and universities driven by common interests in the exploitation of data science. It provides resources and funding to kick-start projects, deliver skills and training, and help to develop the local ecosystem by building a cohesive data science community.

The awards, now in their seventh year, celebrate the talent and ideas abundant in Scotland’s world-class digital technologies industry. This year the awards received a huge number of entries from a diverse range of companies and organisations, reflecting the health of the sector. The judging panel included experts, champions and influencers from across the breadth of the nation’s digital technology industry and the public sector.

Polly Purvis CEO of ScotlandIS said: “We are a small country with outstanding capabilities reflected in the diversity, scale and sheer innovation of the companies on the shortlist. The continued success of the industry is reflected in the awards, which highlight the wealth of opportunities available to those considering a career in this vibrant sector. ”

The winners of the Digital Tech Awards will be revealed at a gala night at Glasgow’s Radisson Blu Hotel on Thursday 27th April 2017.

ScotlandIS Award Image by Guy Hinks

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10 Mar 2017

Minister to address event to tackle gender gap in technology

Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science is to deliver a ministerial address highlighting the importance of tackling the gender gap in technology at a dedicated conference at the Strathclyde Technology Innovation Centre on Wednesday 29 March.

Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP will join representatives from industry, education and public sector at Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together 2017, an event to share good practice and support organisations to encourage more females into digital technology.

The interactive and practical event will show individuals and organisations how they can take action to support women at every stage of the talent pipeline, from school to employment. The event is open to all and suitable for educators, employers and organisations working at all stages of the pipeline. A hub event will take place in Inverness on Thursday 30 March.

It follows the launch of Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together (TTGGT), an informative report into women in tech in Scotland commissioned by the Digital Technologies Skills Group and completed by Edinburgh Napier University.

The report found that women account for 18 per cent of those in digital technology roles in Scotland, with the gender gap in the talent pipeline starting at school.

It identified a prime opportunity to tackle the skills gap and attract more women into digital technology roles through targeted intervention and on-going support at every stage of the skills pipeline, from school to employment and retention.

Actions in progress include greater and improved use of role models in schools, extending the reach of technology into other subjects, promoting the benefits of gender parity and flexible workplaces, and supporting employers to attract, retain and promote female participation.

Delegates will hear from schools, tech clubs, colleges, universities, employers and organisations who have all been successful in engaging and supporting females into digital technology. There will also be the opportunity to take part in one of four interactive workshops.

Evelyn Walker, chair of Digital Technologies Skills Group’s Gender Work Stream and UK & Ireland Project Management Lead for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will open the event.

She says: “This event is an opportunity to share real world projects, tactics, tools and success stories which will help more individuals and organisations to get involved in tackling the gender gap.”

“Research indicates that there are a lot of females who are open to the idea of working in tech. To turn that willingness into a real increase in the number of women in our sector we need to reach, support and inspire them to take the next steps.”

Presentations, panel discussions and workshops will be delivered by: Ayrshire College, BCS Women, CAS Ltd, Education Scotland, Equate Scotland, FanDuel, FDM, HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), J.P. Morgan, QA, SmartSTEMs, St Kentigern’s Academy, Wick High School.

A hub event in Inverness on Thursday 30 March will focus specifically on how to attract and retain women in the technology workplace and onto digital technology related courses at College and University. Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from speakers from the Glasgow event as well as a taking part in a round table discussion to share best practice and network with businesses from across the North of Scotland.

Register for Glasgow: HERE

Register for Inverness: HERE

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24 Feb 2017

Over 100 school children set for Apps for Good inaugural Scottish Event

On Wednesday 15th March, students from schools across Scotland will travel to Edinburgh’s Quincentenary Conference Centre to participate in the first ever Scottish event organised by Apps for Good, which will celebrate the future generation of digital makers.

This inaugural Scottish event has been made possible after being awarded a grant from Digital Xtra, funded by the Scottish Government Digital Skills Business Excellence Partnership, who have provided Apps for Good with support to help us grow our after-school activities in Scotland.

Phil Worms says, “Digital Xtra is delighted to be able to support the first Apps for Good event to be held in Scotland. It is a fantastic initiative that focuses our young people’s minds on becoming creators rather than consumers of technology and better prepares them for their future whatever career path they might take. Young Scottish students who have this creative capacity coupled with
technical ability will become the next generation of entrepreneurs and are therefore vital to Scotland’s long term economic success.”

The event will bring together some of Scotland’s brightest young digital makers and entrepreneurs under one roof in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre for a day of networking and skill development workshops. The teams of young people have been working to create apps to tackle the problems and issues that matter most to them. At the event, the students will be showcasing their products, participating in workshops to hone their skills and getting feedback from top industry experts in Scotland.

Representatives from Scottish technology companies have volunteered to deliver four master-class workshops to attendees. Jamie Sutherland from Mallzee will speak about the importance of getting feedback from customers. Carole Logan from digital agency Equator will show the young entrepreneurs how to build digital prototypes. Katie Lyne from CivTech will share real world examples of product development and creation, including the triumphs and failures. Phil Worms from Digital Xtra will speak about putting together a perfect pitch.

These workshops mean the young people will get a great insight into what it takes to make it in tech in Scotland from those already working in the industry.

The invited industry guests have been chosen to reflect the diversity of Scotland’s burgeoning and dynamic tech community, and students will have the opportunity to pitch their app idea and gain advice and feedback from the invited guests during the Marketplace part of the event. The event will culminate with the invited guests casting their vote in our People’s Choice Awards which will recognise the top three teams.

Apps for Good’s journey in Scotland began back in 2012/13 when its app development course was delivered in 5 centres including, Wick High School, Wick (Highlands); Calderglen High School, East Kilbride (Glasgow); and, Fife College, Kirkcaldy (Fife). In the years that followed, Apps for Good is proud to say that it has gone from strength to strength in Scotland. During the 2015/16 academic year 133 schools and learning centres delivered our app development course across Scotland.

Heather Picov, the Apps for Good UK Managing Director says “We are delighted and proud to be hosting this event in partnership with Digital Xtra, established by the Scottish Government Digital Skills Business Excellence Partnership to celebrate the next generation of Scotland’s tech entrepreneurs. Since our launch in Scotland in 2012, we have seen schools and students here go from strength to strength with the quality and creativity of their product ideas and the depth of their digital skills, supported by a thriving technology community. We know the future of tech isn’t just in
London or San Francisco, but in Edinburgh, Fife and Wick – and places like them all over Scotland, and this event will help showcase that potential to the nation.”

About Apps for Good
Apps for Good aims to unlock the confidence and talent of the next generation of problem solvers and digital makers: young people who are ready to tackle the 21st century workplace and are inspired to create real technology products that can change their world for good. Since launching in 2010/11 Apps for Good has been delivered in over 1,500 schools to more than 75,000 students. Apps for Good is a registered charity and is supported by partnerships with companies and foundations who share their vision of improving technology education. Corporate partners include technology leaders Thomson Reuters, Salesforce.org, Nominet Trust and Samsung to name but a few.

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15 Feb 2017

We’re Hiring! Partnerships & Development Manager

The Digital Xtra Fund is seeking a Partnerships & Development Manager on a 6 month contract.

The Digital Xtra Fund launched in May 2016, as part of a wider programme of activity dedicated to developing digital skills for young people across Scotland, and supports the objectives of the Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan developed by Skills Development Scotland in 2014.

Year 1 of Digital Xtra has been hugely successful with feedback from awardees and partners being very positive. We would like to build on this success by developing the business model for Digital Xtra and establish it as a Scottish Charitable organisation, and we are seeking an ambitious individual to manage and develop the transition from a publicly funded programme to an independent entity with a wide range of sponsors.

The Digital Xtra Fund wishes to appoint a Partnerships & Development Manager who is passionate about fundraising and committed to making a real difference in supporting young people across Scotland to develop their computing and digital skills.

You will be a confident ambassador for the organisation, and capable of delivering funding growth year on year consistent with the values of Digital Xtra Fund. You will need to use your experience, networks, initiative, creativity and proven income-generating skills to ensure the success of the Fund’s ambitious plans for income growth.

The position is for a 6 month contract period but it is expected that the position will become a full time permanent position.

A detailed Job Description for the position can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:

job_description_partnerships_development_manager_digital_xtra_fund_february_2017

Interested applicants should send a copy of their latest CV to info@digitalxtrafund.scot by 5.00pm on Friday 3rd March 2017.

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06 Feb 2017

Annual ScotlandIS Scottish Tech Sector Survey 2017

Each year the Scottish Technology Industry Survey provides information on the health of the digital technologies industry in Scotland including data on skills, education and the issues facing employers in finding the right talent.

Commissioned by trade organisation ScotlandIS and supported by recruitment agency NineTwenty, the survey measures the industry’s current size, performance and development and provides intelligence for many organisations in both the Scottish public and private sectors.

As a respondent you will be one of the first to receive the results once they are available. The survey will be published the ScotlandIS website and it is expected that it will be widely reported on by media outlets. Last year’s report is available here.

The survey has been designed to be completed in around 10 minutes and includes questions on your company details and business performance (e.g. sales, profit margins, exports, skills requirements) . CEOs, MD’s and other senior staff will find it easiest to complete the survey.

Take the survey now

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