The misconception about 'tech-savvy' millennials

To celebrate Computer Science Education Week, hear how UK Youth and Microsoft are helping inspire young people to take part in an Hour of Code

We live in a technology driven world. The development of computer science is taking place on a global scale, affecting everyone. In today’s modern world you can make online payments through face recognition, construct a floating solar panel plant in the middle of the ocean, and create robots with incredible human likeness.

There is a huge demand for digital skills. According to the Government, an estimated 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people are needed by 2022 to satisfy future skills needs. These skills are essential, not optional, with 90 percent of all jobs within the next 20 years requiring some element of digital skills.

Millennials have been immersed in digital technology all their lives. As smartphone/laptop/console users surely they must have an understanding of technology?  The truth is that many young people today are digital consumers rather than digital creators, tech-dependent rather than tech-savvy. Many young people don’t understand how the technology they use every day came to exist, nor can they create digital content.

UK Youth has partnered with Microsoft to deliver Generation Code, a national programme for young people to ignite an interest in computer science and gain an understanding of coding. 

Since the programme launched in July of this year, 10 Digital Inspiration Days have been delivered to our national network of youth organisations. These events have provided first-steps coding training and exploration of the Generation Code curriculum, to upskill youth workers and young leaders. 

At the beginning of our Digital Inspiration Day, young leaders were asked to describe how they felt about coding.  Words such as ’impossible’ and ‘scary’ were in abundance. 

To help our young leaders engage with digital creation, the day’s activities had to demystify the perception that coding was impossibly difficult, and help young people see that being able to create digital content was not only fun, but had a wide range of applications and benefits.  

Young leaders were introduced to the BBC micro:bits. They successfully coded their micro:bits to display scrolling text and animations, and many could even create a micro:bit dice. These young coders were excited by their own digital creations and were visibly overcoming their digital fear.

One young leader even said “I thought coding was really hard, but I can now see that once you get the basics it’s simple and really creative.”

The young leaders also explored the Generation Code online curriculum.  They completed coding activities which have been purposefully selected to showcase how coding is relevant to all areas of our lives, including sports, dance and food.  

To end our Digital Inspiration Day, the young leaders were asked how they now felt about the word ‘coding’. Words such as ‘exciting’, ‘accessible’ and ‘relevant’ emerged in their multitude. From just one day engaging with coding, the young leaders clearly felt inspired by digital creation, with increased confidence and a changing attitude towards this aspect of computer science. 

Now the digital inspiration days are complete, 83 youth workers and 94 young leaders have been trained to deliver the Generation Code curriculum. Inspired and enthused, they are now able to empower other young people aged 11-19 across the UK to get coding and develop the skills they need to access digital opportunities now and in the future.

Many of these Champions will use Computer Science Education Week to inspire young people to take their first steps to learning coding during an Hour of Code. Follow @UKYouth and the hashtag #HourOfCode to see their delivery in action. 

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