Youth programming club Prewired has secured funding from Creative Informatics to help the long-running Edinburgh group move online.
Before the pandemic, Prewired sessions took place at CodeBase in Edinburgh. The funding will help the social enterprise embark on online learning for young people across Edinburgh, with plans to expand nationwide in Scotland in due course.
The Creative Informatics funding is also being used to adapt the Prewired Summer Hack, previously offered as a week-long team-based event for young people of secondary school age, to an online format held over several months.
Prewired co-founder Freda O’Byrne commented: “We’re thankful for the support from Creative Informatics to help us through a challenging phase, enabling our team to continue to work with our amazing community of young people, mentors and partners.
“Prewired has always been about encouraging our participants to engage with programming and providing an environment in which they can safely engage with like-minded peers, while having access to mentoring from academic and industry circles.
“While we look forward to gathering again in a physical space, the online format will allow us to take Prewired further and wider.”
A charity enterprise, Prewired was set up in response to what the founders say continues to be an educational gap when it comes to digital skills.
Prewired, which is also supported by the UK’s largest tech incubator CodeBase and tech groups Skyscanner and Deliveroo Engineering, has helped over 350 under-19s to develop computer programming and digital skills since being founded in 2013 in partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.
Another driver for Prewired, which was referenced in Mark Logan’s Scottish Government-commissioned Scottish technology ecosystem review last August, is around industry statistics showing that while the global technology industry grows rapidly, there continues to be digital skills shortage, including in Scotland.
Resident Entrepreneur at Prewired Regina Vereker said: “We are excited to be using the funding to develop online resources for young people to learn coding, design and other digital skills, while building a digital community so that they can engage with each other and share knowledge.
“One aspect we are particularly looking forward to is the ‘Long Thin Summer Hack’, which will be a three-month long activity where teams design and develop their own digital projects. It’s a great experience for the young people that take part, giving them an early taste of what both a further education and a career in digital technology can look like.
“The Summer Hack has always been a fun and engaging part of Prewired’s activities, so to be able to hold it again in a new format during these challenging times is fantastic.
“We’re keen for people to visit the Prewired site and sign up to be kept up to date with more information.”
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Ewan Klein, Professor Emeritus of Language Technology at University of Edinburgh and Prewired co-founder, said: “In the days before Covid-19, our weekly sessions not just provided a great environment for young people working together, but also acted as a demo for visitors from schools, the third sector and tech companies.
“They could see in real life how we do things, exchange ideas and ways of learning and understand our goals and ethos of self-directed learning.
“While an online version of Prewired won’t provide the same easy interactions, we are hoping that it will allow us to connect to a wider and more diverse community of young people across the city, and also to collaborate with other fantastic youth organisations to create new opportunities for digital-based team projects.”