Inspiring young people to understand and create with technology is essential to Scotland’s economic development and future, and is something that business need to support.
The world is changing rapidly, largely driven by new technologies. While the pace of change may have caught businesses off guard in the past, most now realise the importance of investing in tech to remain competitive. However, the largest limiting factor isn’t a lack of funding or ideas, but a lack of talent.
To date, the fund has helped engage nearly 30,000 young people across Scotland by awarding a total of £550,000. This year’s funding will support 22 initiatives, covering topics from robotics and coding, to app development and the Internet of Things (IoT). Initiatives include Apps for Good, which teaches skills in app development, IoT, and machine learning in the context of tech for social good; Glasgow Life’s Wear-a:bits scheme to introduce coding and design skills using wearable technology; and Islay-based Port Ellen Primary School’s delivery of an afterschool robotics club where children will learn Scratch and Python, as well as how to programme with micro:bits, Lego Boost and other tech.
It’s also key that we provide context to these skills regarding career opportunities. Young people begin course selection in S2 (around age 12-13). At this age, it is obvious what a nurse or lawyer does, but what about a UX designer, Python developer, or scrum master? Why should we expect young people to choose computing studies if they don’t even understand what the career prospects are? This is where it is especially valuable to have industry involvement to provide first-hand experience and guidance.
Digital Xtra Fund is hugely grateful to industry partners who have enabled us to increase funds available from £50,000 to £100,000 for 2019. We are committed to helping young people learn the skills needed to succeed in a digital world – but we still need to do more.
We need to ensure young people have the appropriate skills to create with technology, not simply use it, and we will continue to grow with our network of partners and supporters until Scotland’s digital talent pool is more than sufficient for a nation built on invention and innovation.
– Kraig T Brown, Partnerships and Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund
- Source: The Scotsman (Originally published Friday 12 April)