Chris van der Kuyl, one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs in the technology, media, gaming and entertainment sectors, has helped kickstart the Dundee Digital Fortnight, as city partners prepare to showcase the skills needed by young people to develop a career in the local technology sector. He is issuing a rallying call for pupils and students to get ready to play their part in the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for the city.
Van der Kuyl is co-founder and chairman of Dundee-based 4J Studios – best known for developing Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo games consoles – as well as Principal of Chroma Ventures alongside his business partner, Paddy Burns. Chroma Ventures is one of Digital Xtra Fund’s key Gigabyte Partners with Burns also sitting on the Fund’s Board of Trustees.
Dundee Digital Fortnight aims to inspire the future workforce needed to take the local industry to the next levels.
Chris van der Kuyl said: “The global games industry is bigger by revenue than every other entertainment sector combined and Dundee has more games developers per head of the population than anywhere else in the world. We have a real opportunity to lead the way in this and other technology-based sectors but it will require a focus on developing skills and talent over the next decade and beyond. Initiatives like Dundee’s Digital Fortnight will play a part in inspiring the city’s next generation of coders, games developers, and data analysts. Well done to the whole team involved in creating this programme of events.”
Dundee Digital Fortnight is being organised by the city council along with a range of partners including Abertay and Dundee universities, Dundee & Angus College, Amazon Web Services, Waracle, Developing the Young Workforce Dundee & Angus, Skills Development Scotland and Showcase the Street. Both Amazon Web Services and Skills Development Scotland are also key Gigabyte Partners for Digital Xtra Fund.
The initiative is designed to encourage young people to aim for a career in the city’s digital and technology industries by showcasing the opportunities available now, and the prospects that could be open for them in the local sector in the future.
That could be games, apps, cyber security, or the many ways that local companies use tech for their everyday business.
Dundee City Council city development convener Councillor Mark Flynn said: “We are using this fortnight to harness the power of technology to encourage young people to develop the skills they will need to play a part in the digital future.
“Dundee is a city where great things are already happening and we want as many people as possible to be able to take advantage of exciting opportunities in this wide and diverse sector.
“That is why it is vital the partners can encourage them into appropriate training pathways to prepare them for the years ahead.”
The fortnight will take place between November 8 and 21 and will include in-school events, online sessions and other activities. These will explain the skills that are required to work in the digital sector and showcase how they are applied to real life projects.
It will coincide with the event at Dundee Contemporary Arts, as well as taking in a range of activities to be delivered by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
These include a Deep Racer Championship and a Get IT event to encourage girls aged 12-13 to consider a career in tech by challenging long standing gender stereotypes. AWS will also be launching their reskilling programme, AWS re/Start, with a reception for local tech employers.
Cheryl Torano, business development manager of Abertay University cyberQuarter, added: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have all become more dependent on technology in our daily lives, with remote working becoming the ‘new normal’ and people of all ages using connected devices to keep in touch.
“As a result of this, cyber-attacks in the UK have doubled within the past year, so young people should be empowered to use technology safely and responsibly, or even to consider cybersecurity as a career option.
“Cybersecurity offers an interesting, meaningful and well-paid career path where people can make a difference to the lives of others, and graduates coming out of courses like Abertay University’s Ethical Hacking programme will quickly progress into jobs that are both highly-skilled and personally rewarding.”
Gillian McGovern, Head of Sector for Creative Cultural and digital at Dundee and Angus College, said: “The increasing need for digital skills is becoming a major priority both local and globally. As a college we are constantly looking for new ways to increase awareness and to educate both students and parents of the job opportunities in this sector.
“Some of the initiatives have included establishing partnerships with local business to create talent pipelines and arranging early intervention programs for schools to promote the wide variety of digital courses and job opportunities that sit alongside these skills sets.
“We are extremely excited about being a part of the digital skills fortnight. We will be showcasing at DCA from November 18 to 21 where people can meet lecturers and students, find out about studying Computing and Esports and take part in a variety of fun games and competitions. These include Design a game Character, Esports and Gaming Jargon, VR game competitions, Retro games Competitions, Mini Gaming Tournament and Robot Assault course.”
John Davies, Director of Regional & Devolved Government, Amazon Web Services, said: “AWS is delighted to be rolling out digital skills programmes in Dundee for every age and stage.
“The past 18 months have seen a reshaping of the world of work, with more focus on digital skills in every part of the economy. Tech is a sector which is constantly evolving, and the demand for digital skills is increasing. We’re launching digital skills programmes for schools, for colleges and universities, and for people who are looking to retrain for a career in tech, so that everyone can play a part in building the future.”