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Initiatives Sought to Help Boost Young Scots Digital Skills

Digital Xtra Fund, a public and corporate sector-backed Scottish charity, has invited applications for initiatives to boost young Scots digital skills.

The initiatives will enable children across the country to access the vital digital skills needed for careers in sectors such as cybersecurity and STEM subjects.

Since its 2016 launch, the Digital Xtra Fund has awarded £725,000 to digital skills initiatives, helping schools and organisations engage nearly 45,000 young people.

Last year, the fund worked alongside government and industry partners to identify, finance, and support 22 initiatives for people aged 16 and under and boost young Scots’ digital skills.

These included coding clubs at four schools in Angus, a ‘Games for Good’ programme at Heart of Midlothian FC’s Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, introducing hundreds of young people to cybersecurity at Aberdeen Science Centre,

Additionally, the young Scots took part in a COP26-related collaboration around climate tech with SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs.

Commenting on the initiative drive, Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s Partnerships and Development Manager, said: “Our mission is for every young person in Scotland to have access to inspiring and meaningful digital tech activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

“Everyone realises that digital skills are absolutely integral to the success of our future economy – and to the future success of our young people too – but at the same time, commentators agree that the state of computing science in our schools is behind the curve to achieve these successes.

“That should be worrying for all of us – government, industry, educators, parents, young people, the whole gambit. We need to do more and soon.”

Baillie Gifford, Chroma Ventures, JP Morgan, Cirrus Logic, Accenture, Incremental Group, and ScotlandIS have all committed to supporting Digital Xtra Fund again over 2022 and 2023; and the charity said it plans to announce further financial supporters over the next few weeks.

Brown continued: “We are currently lining up this year’s funding from both the public and private sectors, which will allow us to deliver even more this year and next. By scaling up, we can start to build critical mass and become even more impactful.

“It is also no longer enough to just teach young people how to use technology, we need to show them how it can be applied to real life – particularly in areas such as climate tech or health tech where it can make such a positive impact.

“Supporting innovative and meaningful projects is key to inspiring the next generation of digital leaders. Engaging with industry to help provide this context and guidance is also increasingly important.”

Brown added: “Yes, there are a lot of moving parts and it isn’t always easy linking those parts together, but we are talking about a fundamental change to the education and skills landscape for young people – of course it will be challenging. But it has to happen, and Digital Xtra Fund is at the forefront of that change.”

Digital Xtra Fund has now launched this year’s Round VII (2022/23) Grant Awards, with the aim to increase the number and diversity of young people learning key digital skills. Digital Xtra Fund is keen to support any exciting and stimulating extra-curricular activities that appeal to young people.

Supported activities must be delivered between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 and delivered entirely in Scotland. Activities must also focus on engaging young people aged 16 and under. Eligible organisations can apply for grants from a minimum of £500 to a maximum of £5,000.

This year, applicants will be required to submit their applications via online form found on the Digital Xtra Fund website. To help applicants with the grant application, Digital Xtra Fund will also be delivering 2 webinars while the funding is open. The final deadline for submissions of the grant application is Tuesday 5 April 2022 at 15:00.

To find out more about eligibility criteria, online application and details about the webinars, please visit Apply Now page on the website.

Source: DIGIT

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