12 digital projects to boost tech skills awarded £250,000

Twelve projects to improve the digital skills of Scotland's youth have been awarded £250,000.

Children at the Edinburgh International Science Festival - one of the organisations that has secured funding. Picture: Edinburgh International Science Festival/Contributed.

The ‘digital dozen’ received the funding boost from Scotland’s Digital Xtra fund.

Awards of between £715 and £48,000 have been made to support a diverse range of activities designed to develop the tech skills of Scottish children.

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Winning projects include a wildlife camera to help school pupils learn to code, programming classes taught at local libraries and a forensic investigation programme. 
More than 84,000 people are currently employed in jobs such as software development, data, digital agency, telecoms, cloud and ICT services roles across the country and demand for digital skillsets is set to increase as the world becomes ever more connected.
Digital Xtra is a fund dedicated to widening access to extracurricular computing related projects in Scotland with the eventual aim of plugging the nation’s skill gap.

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The funded initiatives will reach a combined total of over 10,500 young people across the country and will bring new opportunities to rural and disadvantaged areas as well as encouraging more girls to take up computer science.

Launched in May this year, Digital Xtra is run by Skills Development Scotland and developed in partnership with ScotlandIS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Education Scotland.

The scheme had 95 applications and the panel prioritised applications that demonstrated long-term sustainability, partnership working and innovation.

Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and Digital Skills at Skills Development Scotland said:

“Our young people are avid consumers of technology but it’s important that we inspire them to take computing science seriously and have the chance to become the next generation of digital makers.

“Hands on extracurricular activities are an excellent way to get young people excited about digital technology and the difference people can make when they have specialist skills. Every single young person in Scotland should have access to activities of this kind and this joined up approach to funding is an important step towards achieving that goal.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to closing the digital skills gap faced by all sectors across the economy and investing in the digital skills of our young people is crucial to achieving this ambition.

“It’s important that we encourage our children and young people to develop their digital skills from a young age.”

The 12 winning projects are:

-Tweety Pi is a partnership between SCDI and BT that will bring the natural and digital worlds together with wildlife watching cameras powered by Raspberry Pi computers that have been coded by students. It will be open to 900 pupils in Dumfries & Galloway, Moray, and Orkney.

-Scottish Libraries and Information Council and Code Club have been awarded funding for a joint project that will train library staff to deliver 12 week coding clubs to 9-11 year olds across 27 of Scotland’s 32 library services. -Midlothian Council has also received funding to support coding clubs in libraries.

-Edinburgh College and Oracle have partnered for CSI Forensic Investigation, a four week project inspired by the popular CSI television series. Participants aged 12-16 will learn a variety of digital skills including video production and coding.

-Queens Cross Housing Association and Glasgow Kelvin College received funding for a joint initiative to engage young people from North Glasgow with Minecraft and Raspberry Pi coding workshops hosted at the city’s MAKLab innovation facility. A pop up event for 100 young people and their families will complement the workshops.

-Angus Young Engineers from Forfar Academy will use its funding to roll out an after school computing club for secondary pupils and pupils from its cluster primary schools in Angus.

-Apps for Good which will train teachers to deliver coding courses and teach pupils to design and develop mobile, web and social apps that solve problems young people care about.

-Inverness College.

-Edinburgh International Science Festival,

-The Prince’s Trust.

-Ian Findlay Design and Troqueer Primary School.

-Rampaging Chariots Guild.