Glasgow schools are being paired with tech industry experts in a collaborative project to encourage uptake of computing science among students and to close the digital skills gap.
Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow has partnered with tech sector body ScotlandIS to form the ‘digital critical friends’ programme, which sees each school in Glasgow City Council matched with an industry specialist.
The project enables people who work in the tech sector to share information about current practices and innovations with computing teachers while also contributing to the curriculum to keep it relevant. It is hoped it will encourage the uptake of computing science among students, particularly girls. A recent study showed only three per cent of young women would consider a career in tech.
It should also ensure students gain and improve the digital skills they need to compete in the technology job market and help bridge the digital skills gap. The digital skills gap refers to the difference between the number of employees with the necessary digital skills, and the number required for businesses to grow and develop.
Karen Meechan, interim chair of ScotlandIS, said: “We know that a big reason the skills gap in our industry exists is because of the drop-off rates of school children and young people choosing the subject, or having the opportunity to.
“Our aim is to become involved to help rectify this and provide industry mentors for computer science teachers across Glasgow.
“This will allow us to let teachers know what’s happening, where the new technologies are, and help them advocate for more or better funding for their department and encourage young people into the computing and tech subjects.”
The initiative follows the publication of Mark Logan’s Scottish technology ecosystem review last year, which found that 13,000 digital-tech jobs are created each year and that filling them would add £1bn to Scotland’s economy.
According to ScotlandIS, the nation is currently only producing around 5,000 new recruits each year through universities or apprenticeships.
Logan, who is the former chief operating officer of Skyscanner also concluded in his report that computing science should be treated as a core school subject in the same way as maths and physics.
Alison McRae, senior director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of DYW Glasgow, commented: “Businesses play a key role in the response to the recommendations of the Logan review.
“This project provides a great opportunity for digital tech businesses in Glasgow and Scotland to influence future skills and talent to meet future economic demand.
“Our goal for this legacy building project is to ensure the curriculum is industry relevant, that teachers are upskilled, and sector savvy and young people have an increased awareness of digital career opportunities through industry influence.”
Businesses that have already signed up to the digital critical friends initiative include PwC, Virgin Money, Amazon, Leidos, Morgan Stanley and Adobe.
Other organisations involved in the programme are CalMac, I-Confidential, SDS, Wescot Credit Services, Cutitronics, Massive Digital, CF Online, Capgemini, Palo Alto Networks, University of Strathclyde, Codify, BJSS and Nomadix Media.