By Rachel Toogood, Project Manager at UK Youth.
Providing computer science opportunities within the youth sector
According to the Government, an estimated 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people are needed by 2022 . Young people in the UK today live in a world that is increasingly complicated and has become digital-by-default. Despite young people being born “digital natives”, many have remained digital consumers. They are almost unquestioning of the technology that surrounds them and how it came to be.
Digital creation and computer science are no longer niche skills – they’re the way we engage with and understand the new digital world around us. That’s why we partnered with Microsoft to deliver Generation Code. Our national programme ignites an interest in computer science and allows young people to gain an understanding of coding.
Since launch in September 2017, youth organisations across 47 regions of the UK have engaged over 5,000 young people aged 11-19 in coding activities. Generation Code sessions are led by Code Champions, young people aged 16-25. Their digital creations are varied, from animations on the BBC micro:bit to pedometers and robotics.
Celebrating and inspiring young people
In March 2018, we hosted the Generation Code Showcase Hackathon. This event brought together youth workers, young people, and tech experts from across the UK to celebrate and inspire young people.
The day opened with a Tech Industry Marketplace, bustling with different kind of technology on show, providing advice for young people on employment and education opportunities within the sector. Opportunities included those from Microsoft, PwC, the Micro:bit Foundation, and Code Club.
The Tech Industry Panel saw panellists share their own experiences and advice from within the sector. Ruby, an apprentice at Microsoft, encouraged more females to consider this pathway and career opportunities in tech. Ross, a young coder, and Eleanor, a Civil Engineer encouraged young people to attend tech events, network and explore the wealth of resources online to expand their understanding of digital possibilities. Elena, a founder of a tech company, urged young people to develop their computational thinking and become change makers in the world.
Designing tech for good
Young people were also challenged to design tech for good. This involved using technology as a way to solve a real world problem.
We saw lots of creative ideas coming to life. The BBC micro:bit was used as a device that could support diabetics to keep active and track their sugar levels. Further to this, there were animations which raised awareness on cyber-bullying.
‘Today has inspired me to explore further with code, specifically how coding can help me solve problems in my life, and even help others’– Generation Code Participant
The day ended by celebrating those involved in Generation Code with our awards. Youth hubs and young people that have shown a passion and commitment to digital creation were announced as winners.
Within the Generation Code Showcase Hackathon, youth workers were encouraged to share their thoughts on providing computer science opportunities within the youth sector.
‘It’s important for young people to know about digital opportunities and for the sector to stay focused, continuing to equip young people with these skills’ – Youth Worker, Generation Code Hub.
Generation Code is having a positive impact across the UK. We’re excited to announce that the programme will continue throughout 2018. As a result, youth organisations already delivering these opportunities can continue their great work. In addition, new organisations will be inspired and equipped to deliver coding opportunities to young people within their local area.