Findings from the Learning & Work Institute show the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015. However, consulting organisation Accenture has found demand for AI, cloud and robotics skills in the workforce is soaring. With educators feeling a lack in confidence in teaching about tech, and only half of employers able to provide training in these areas, is the UK heading towards a digital skills shortage disaster?
As experts in social impact through education, we teamed up with tech giant Microsoft to create and launch a brand new education programme during Digital Skills Week, to better prepare young people for the technology-driven world of tomorrow. Explore the digital future has been designed not only to develop digital skills, but showcase how diversity helps build better technology, and how it can be used as a force for positive change. It brings together the best resources from Microsoft and their industry-leading partners.
Modules that take a creative approach
Working with computer science educators, we have developed curriculum-linked resources that take a creative approach to digital skills education with classroom activities, real-life case studies, challenges and more.
Starting by exploring the ever-changing tech industry, the ‘Discover’ modules expand students’ understanding of the tech innovations shaping our future and the transformational impact that embedding diversity, accessibility, and inclusion across these developments can have for everyone. For example, did you know that some automated taps and soap dispensers are unable to detect darker skin tones, and some voice recognition software responds better to male voices?
Students then have the opportunity to explore core digital concepts like coding, AI and big data, before putting them into practise with some already successful Microsoft initiatives, including Minecraft, DigiGirlz and the micro:bit.
Young people’s future is everyone’s future
“The Explore the digital future programme takes the best of Microsoft resources and offers readymade, curriculum-linked lesson plans, giving educators everything they need to prepare their students for the increasingly digital world they are facing every day. From AI predicting and influencing our daily choices, to the bias and inaccessible nature of some existing tech – young people have the power to build better technology and use it as a force for positive change. I feel so proud to have worked with Hopscotch to give educators the confidence to build their students’ skills and expertise in all things digital, opening their eyes to the world ahead and the impact they can have.”
– Jennifer King, Schools Engagement Lead, Microsoft UK
“It’s been a privilege to lead the team at Hopscotch in developing such an ambitious and innovative project with Microsoft. Microsoft recognises the huge impact that placing positive values and meaningful inclusion at the heart of the tech industry will have, and is using its role as an industry leader to inspire young people across the UK. What I love about the programme is that students are challenged to explore different perspectives and reflect critically on the incredible role that tech has on all of our lives, regardless of their career ambitions. As well as expanding their practical digital skills, it asks young people to think about why certain groups are underrepresented in the tech industry, and importantly what happens when we don’t address this.”
– Becky Feetham, Associate Director, Hopscotch Consulting