Kate Forbes, Scotland’s Minister for Digital Economy, attended the Digital Explorers event at Easter Road Stadium today to encourage students to become the next great technology inventors.
All this week, IT firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is engaging 1,000 Scottish pupils from more than 20 schools in Lothians, Central, Strathclyde and Fife through its Digital Explorers Programme.
At the event, students aged 11-18 have been joined by a host of volunteers from TCS and Lloyds Banking Group. Attendees were given the opportunity to learn and put into practice hands-on skills vital for the latest technological innovations, including coding their own robot (Ozbot) using coloured patterns and using artificial intelligence to get it to perform tasks.
The highlight for many students has been the chance to create and pitch their own tech start-up ideas to investors in the tech industry, led by TCS’ delivery partners EDT (Engineering Development Trust).
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Addressing 240 children at this morning’s activities, Forbes said: “Every day, someone, somewhere, is building a new app. They’re building new games, they’re building new games, they’re building new social media platforms. And as soon as they build a new one the last one is a little bit out of date.
“Businesses tell me all the time they are looking for people who understand how technology works and who can be the next entrepreneur to build the next piece of technology. And they tell me that, when they recruit, they find that a lot of adults don’t have the skills they know that young people like yourselves already have – because you’ve grown up with technology. We’re all great users of technology but it’s about how we become great developers, inventors and producers of technology.”
So many of the most impressive entrepreneurs started out because they loved using technology, Forbes noted. “Those people decided that they wanted to get behind the scenes and understand how it works,” she added. “They then went on to build something incredible.
“There are apps and technology that you use every day, but what’s going to be the next piece of technology? And why should somebody else build it when it could be you who builds its? Who knows if somebody here is going to be the next inventor, entrepreneur or producer of the next big app or piece of technology that will totally change our lives?
“What would be really cool is if in 20 years time one of you is standing here in front of a bunch of pupils from local high schools, telling them how you became an incredible entrepreneur because you took that love for technology and built something with it.”
Commenting on the day’s events, a teacher from Our Lady’s High School, one of the schools taking part, said: “Targeted information like the panel discussion opens the pupils’ eyes to what is possible. A good variety of tech teachers were represented. I enjoyed the Ozbots and might get a set for my classes!”
Gopalan Rajagopalan, country head, TCS Scotland, said: “Demand for digital skills is sky-rocketing at a pace that the current UK talent pool can’t keep up with. According to a report we conducted with the CBI, the UK is at a tipping point and it’s up to the industry to work with third-parties and the government to skill the future workforce and keep pace with business needs.
“Digital technologies significantly contribute to the economy in Scotland as well as supporting local employment opportunities. That’s why it’s crucial we play our part in inspiring the next generation to pursue a career in STEM with the TCS Digital Explorers programme.”
TCS has also launched a new set of workshops called ‘TCS Girls in Digital’ aimed at encouraging female students to get involved in STEM, and explore technical and business concepts like machine learning, coding, and systems applications, and how tech can be used to solve societal problems. The program has reached more than 800 young girls in Scotland so far and, by the end of the fiscal year, the figure is expected to exceed 1,000.