The following thought piece originally appeared in ScotlandIS Blog on 2nd November 2022.
The organisations are seeking to tackle a shared ambition to increase STEM education for school aged pupils, by improving collaboration between the programmes and accessibility for anyone who wants to get involved.
ScotlandIS’ ‘Digital Critical Friends’ programme, in partnership with DYW Glasgow and Skills Development Scotland, has been rolled out in several local authority areas to help meet the rapidly growing and changing skills demand within the Scottish digital sector. It connects school aged pupils with industry practitioners to support computing education, developing interest and abilities in digital technologies, with a view to increasing the digital skills talent pipeline. It also provides teachers with access to insight and support from industry, increasing knowledge and informing lessons.
Through the new partnership, STEM Ambassadors will provide PVG accreditation, making it much easier to become a Digital Critical Friend. With Tech She Can’s ‘Tech We Can’ educational resources now being provided to Digital Critical Friends, they can increase the support given to teachers to build knowledge and confidence in delivering tech related lessons, helping to inform students and inspire them to consider a career in STEM.
Karen Meechan, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “Our aim when we started Digital Critical Friends was to ensure young people had access to practical knowledge, experience within the tech sector and exposure to the career opportunities available to them. This partnership with STEM ambassadors and Tech She Can will allow us all to work together to give young minds the opportunity to explore a future in tech.
“We’re calling for passionate individuals to get involved with the programme. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to get invaluable mentoring experience by training the potential future pioneers of tech.”
The SSERC (Scottish Schools Education Research Centre) is a charity group which runs STEM Ambassadors.
SSERC CEO, Alastair MacGregor, said: “We’re delighted to be able to work alongside Tech She Can and ScotlandIS to provide such excellent opportunities for our STEM Ambassadors to help young people in Scotland consider a career in technology. STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and by participating in the Digital Critical Friends and Tech We Can initiatives they are able to share those experiences with others.”
Dr Claire Thorne, co-CEO of Tech She Can, added: “We’re proud to be working in partnership with STEM Ambassadors and ScotlandIS to inspire more young people across Scotland to consider a future career in technology. Our Tech We Can Champions are all STEM Ambassador trained and we’re delighted that Digital Critical Friends can now also use our resources to inspire students about tech. Collaboration is key to improving diversity in technology and we’re excited about the potential of this partnership.”
The partnership is actively seeking volunteers from across Scotland to join the programmes, there are currently Digital Critical Friends programmes running in the South of Scotland, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, and East Renfrewshire still have some spaces in the Borders, East Dunbartonshire, and Glasgow.
Karen Meechan added: “In particular, we are looking to hear from tech experts across all digital professions who might be interested in helping. If you feel passionate about STEM education in our schools, get in touch.”
ScotlandIS, STEM Ambassadors and Tech She Can can be contacted for further information on how to get involved or take a look at the partnership page here.
For details on Digital Critical Friends specifically, visit: https://www.scotlandis.com/blog/help-us-help-them-critical-friends-programme/