Scots target hard-hit young with drive for digital skills

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Scotland is ramping up its campaign to be the tech capital of Europe through a scheme targeting some of the country’s hardest-to-reach young people in an effort to improve their skills in areas such as coding, data science and computer-based problem-solving.

Grants of more than £100,000 have been awarded by Digital Xtra Fund to over 20 extracurricular programmes across Scotland in a bid to create the next generation of digital experts.
Winning projects for 2019 include a programme which introduces the basics of coding through wearable technology to young people from areas of Glasgow facing multiple deprivation. Another will teach coding and digital creativity at libraries in the Outer Hebrides, while a third is an Islay-based initiative designed to develop young people’s perseverance when building robots – a process that can sometimes require a lot of trial and error.
Created in 2016, the goal of Digital Xtra Fund is for young people across Scotland to have access to digitally-creative activities to increase the number of youngsters entering highly-skilled careers, bridging the current skills gap in Scotland.
Digital Xtra Fund partnerships and development manager Kraig Brown said: “Today’s young people are the biggest consumers of technology, but we want to teach them how to create it, improve it, and encourage them to become Scotland’s next generation of tech leaders.
“There isn’t always an option for young people to learn advanced digital skills at school, and this is why our funding is so important, as it opens up additional opportunities for young people across a wide range of backgrounds.
“We’re also trying to get the message out there that you don’t have to work for a tech company if you’re into coding or data science. There are career opportunities in finance, hospitality, healthcare, agriculture, even fashion – every industry now relies on technology to some degree.”
Digital Xtra Fund brings together businesses, government organisations, and individuals with a common goal to help young people succeed in a digital world. Key partners include JP Morgan, Skills Development Scotland, Skyscanner, and the Scottish Government, as well as Accenture, Baillie Gifford, BT Scotland, CityFibre, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, Microsoft, ScotlandIS, Sky UK, and Zonal.
Skyscanner is Digital Xtra Fund’s largest private sector contributor for this year’s grant awards.
Skyscanner senior engineering manager Michael Hall said: “A key goal for Skyscanner’s charity team is to support technology education initiatives for young people and those under-represented in technology. We’ve been so impressed with the impact of the Fund’s work in Scotland and are delighted to have helped increase the total amount of funding awarded this year from £75,000 to £100,000.”

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