Digital Xtra Fund would like to share the following statement in response to yesterday’s announcement that Scottish Government will be accepting in full the recommendations from the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. As a Scottish Charity that supports extracurricular digital tech activities for young people, we are extremely pleased with the recommendations as a whole and, in particular, recognition of the importance of extracurricular activities when engaging young people with tech (Recommendations 7 and 25). We hope to work with the Scottish Government to continue to support the hard work of schools and organisations across the country to engage more young people with technology both in and out of the classroom.
Digital Xtra Fund is delighted to hear the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Logan Review’s recommendations especially with regards to the Foundational Talent Pipeline in support of Scotland’s Technology Ecosystem. As a small yet mighty charity supporting extracurricular digital tech activities for young people, Digital Xtra Fund has seen first-hand the positive impact these activities can have through our grant awards programme.
Every young person in Scotland should have access to innovative and digitally creative activities regardless of their gender, geography or background. It’s vital that we inspire the next generation to understand and create with technology, not simply consume it. As a charity, we support this goal by providing micro-grants to high-quality extracurricular activities thus enabling them to purchase much needed equipment and cover operating expenses. Support for these networks and our schools ensures more young people have an opportunity to learn these essential skills and understand the breadth of career opportunities these skills can provide. Over the years, we’ve helped organisations and schools engage over 38,000 young people and awarded grants totalling £660,000. An enormous thanks to our industry partners who have been key in supporting us throughout this process (and, worth saying: if any of this resonates, we’re always on the look-out for additional industry partners to help increase the Fund’s impact).
However, there is still much more to be done to underpin these skills within the Scottish education system so they become embedded in the learning experience of every young person. We need to start teaching young people to be creative with technology from a younger age – learning the basics of coding is no different than learning to read. We need to actively engage more girls and young women in technology so they see tech as an attractive career path. We need to prioritise Computing Science throughout the educational experience while working with industry to provide exciting context for these skills. None of this will be news to those who have been fighting this battle for years, however, this Review and the wider recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity and a route map to achieve these goals.
Finally, it will also require support from the top. This is a pivotal moment in Scotland’s education reform history. Scotland is at a crossroads and we need to decide now if we will be a leader or a follower in this increasingly digital world – and this change starts with young people.