Digital tech workshops get youngsters geared up for the industry

Collaborative event showcases the appeal of digital technology to the next generation 

A series of interactive workshops designed to get school pupils enthusiastic about digital technology have been hailed a huge success, with 100% of those who took part recommending them to a friend.
They were delivered in Edinburgh at XP2016, Europe’s leading event for agile developers, in partnership with Digital World, an initiative set up by the digital technologies sector and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to promote careers in the industry.
Workshops were led by Coderdojo Scotland – part of a global collaboration which provides free coding clubs for young people – and gave primary and secondary school pupils a chance to get to grips with coding using the new BBC micro:bit.
At the outset, pupils were asked to describe someone who works in technology. Results showed that many felt working in tech required a person to be smart and good with computers.
But, according to organisers, teaching agile and software development in a fun and fast way helped widen these perceptions, with many leaving the workshops realising that creativity, people skills and teamwork also contribute to the core components of a role in tech.
Claire Gillespie of Skills Development Scotland
Claire Gillespie of Skills Development Scotland
Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and digital technology skills at SDS, said: “We are pleased with how well received the workshops were at this year’s XP2016, both among the pupils and the teachers. The feedback was incredibly positive and we feel the sessions helped give pupils a greater understanding of tech jobs like software development.

“Scotland’s tech industry is one of our most exciting and rapidly evolving sectors and it comes with countless opportunities. It’s vital that we make our younger generations aware of these possibilities so that they can go on to pick a career in tech or to chose STEM related subjects in school and further education.”

The event gave pupils and teachers a chance to gain further insight into the ever-growing digital industry and discover more about careers in the sector. They also helped teachers further their understanding of the software industry as well as the non-technical aspects of software development, such as agile methodology.

Craig Steele of Coderdojo said: “I am delighted with the success of these workshops. The young people showed a keen interest in learning about agile ways of working. They then put that new knowledge into practice when they got hands-on with the micro:bits.

“Attendees of the conference commented on how engaged the young people were, and that the workshop was a great way to introduce the next generation of digital makers to agile practices.”

This year was the first time the conference included sessions for school pupils and teachers and it proved extremely popular after receiving 128 applications from schools across Scotland to attend.
Selected schools were picked at random from a draw and groups were limited to 20 people in order to ensure each pupil got valuable time with an instructor.
Teachers had the opportunity to view learning resources, which could then be taken back to the classrooms and put to use.
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