£150k awarded to inspire digital entrepreneurs of the future

ComputerXplorers: Libby Sharkey and Azza Dafaa work together on their Scratch programming at Dalry Primary, Edinburgh

The second round of Digital Xtra funding sees 10 of Scotland’s digital tech facilitators, including Fife College, each receive £25k 

Ten initiatives designed to engage and inspire Scotland’s next generation of digital entrepreneurs have been awarded £150,000 in the second round of Digital Xtra funding.
Fife College is among the 10 beneficiaries to receive £25,000 from the fund, which was launched in May 2016 with support from the Scottish Government and organisations including Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Education Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and ScotlandIS, to help support extra-curricular computer science projects.
The remaining nine initiatives to receive funding are the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and BT’s Little Lighthouse Project; Argyll & Bute Council’s digital learning hub in Dunoon; ComputerXplorers in East Lothian, and Dundee & Angus College’s digital learning programme with Dundee Science Centre, as well as College Development Network; Forth Valley College; Glasgow Science Centre; Raspberry Pi Foundation, and West College Scotland in partnership with Renfrewshire Council.
The idea behind Digital Xtra is to make extracurricular digital activities accessible to all young people aged 16 and under, whatever their background and wherever they live in Scotland. In particular, funded projects bring new opportunities to those in harder to reach, rural and disadvantaged areas.
Digital Xtra previously awarded £250,000 to 12 projects in August 2016 and is expected to expand and go from strength to strength thanks to the financial support of industry, employers and other funding bodies.
Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “STEM subjects can open the door to significant and wide-ranging career opportunities: as well as improving literacy, numeracy and confidence, they can also provide the specialist knowledge and skills necessary to work in the ever-increasing STEM sectors of the economy and continue Scotland’s proud history of excellence and innovation in STEM.
“This Government is determined to close the digital skills gap faced by all sectors across the economy which is why we are extremely proud to fund Digital Xtra through the digital skills investment plan. Initiatives like this are absolutely key to inspiring more young people to pursue a career in STEM and I’d like to congratulate all those who have been successful in securing funding for their projects, I look forward to seeing the end results.”
Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and Digital Skills at SDS, said: “At a time when businesses and organisations across all sectors in Scotland are experiencing increased demand for employees with high level digital technology skills, it’s vital that we show young people that they can be the makers of technology and help them to realise the potential of technology careers.
“Extra-curricular activities are a great way of engaging young people and with the help of Digital Xtra they are available more widely than ever before.”
Digital Xtra says a diverse range of digital projects were selected to receive the funding including existing initiatives looking to expand their activities, as well as innovative new projects and pilots that could be rolled out further in the future.

 

Phil Worms, Computing and Schools Project lead at tech industry body ScotlandIS, said: “In its first year the Digital Xtra Fund has supported a wide range of innovative projects that will directly reach over 15,000 young people in Scotland. Over time the Fund has the potential to make a real difference to the skills landscape in Scotland but it requires the support of industry now if it is to succeed and grow.
“Digital Xtra won’t solve the skills gap overnight but if it continues to support organisations that engage young people in digital activities from an early age it will help provide us with a talent pipeline for the future. There are many opportunities for individuals and organisations to join us; from becoming an official funding partner to supporting regional activities to providing us with specialist expertise.”

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