Fund to support digital activities for young people

A fund has been set up to support digital activities for young people. Picture: Skills Development Scotland

A fund has been set up to support digital activities for young people. Picture: Skills Development Scotland

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SKILLS Development Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and ScotlandIS have teamed up to create a way to increase extracurricular digital activities for young people.

Through their work, a fund will be created to support activities that help develop digital skills useful for careers in the digital technology sector.

Claire Gillespie. Picture: Skills Development Scotland

Claire Gillespie. Picture: Skills Development Scotland

A wider programme is also to be established to create a coordinated approach to how extracurricular activities such as coding clubs are supported.

It is hoped that the partnership will broaden the future talent on offer while acknowledging the valuable role played by the groups in generating enthusiasm for science subjects.

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Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and digital technology skills at SDS, said: “Extracurricular and enrichment activities make an incredibly important contribution to skills education. Programmes such as the First Lego League, which saw a Scottish team beat competition from across the UK to get to the international finals, inspire young people with the possibilities of digital skills outside the classroom.

“Our ultimate long-term aim is for every child in Scotland to have access to digital technology skills opportunities, offering the chance to try things that might not be possible during the school day.”

By designing the new approach to ensure consistent extracurricular provision is available, public sector bodies, Scottish Government, voluntary sector and industry will be able to work together to disburse resources in a more coordinated way.

They will support the work of funders to prioritise the best and most relevant initiatives as funding requests will be reviewed together.

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All the digital initiatives will be organised in a way to enable schools and teachers to make best use of them.

Information will be made available to the public to allow school pupils, parents and volunteers to search for initiatives in their local area and find out how they can get involved.

Joyce MacLennan, head of finance and business services for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “This project is intended to ensure young people wherever they are based can participate in activities to increase their digital skills. It is often difficult for schools in more rural areas to attend events or access activities. This project is looking at ways to overcome any barriers and increase participation.”

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “Our industry offers a huge variety of opportunities to young people and we need to get this message across before they start making subject choices. After school activities can make a huge difference to how young people view subjects like computing by giving them the chance to try new things and use their imaginations.”

The Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership will provide funding for the first year, and it is anticipated that industry, employers and other funders will contribute in subsequent years, making this a sustainable approach.

Scotland’s digital technologies industry generates more than £5 billion in GVA and employs around 84,000 people.

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