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South of Scotland pupils to benefit from new digital mentors

Secondary schools in the South of Scotland are partnering with digital technology experts to address
the current industry skills gap.

As part of the new initiative to meet the rapidly growing and changing skills requirements of the digital
sector, secondary schools across the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway will be directly
paired with relevant practitioners and companies to help develop their interest and abilities.

The ‘Digital Critical Friends’ programme is a partnership between ScotlandIS, Skills Development
Scotland, and DYW Borders and DYW Dumfries & Galloway with 25 secondary schools across the region.

The programme matches teachers with industry professionals to strengthen the relationship on both
sides, share current industry practices and give industry the opportunity to feed into curriculum
development. Businesses across Scotland that have already signed up to the initiative include PwC,
Virgin Money, Amazon, Leidos, Morgan Stanley and Adobe.

Karen Meechan, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “We know that a big reason the digital skills gap exists is
because of the drop-off rates of school children and young people choosing the subject, or having the
opportunity to.

“Our aim is to help rectify this by connecting industry mentors to computer sciences teachers across
the South of Scotland. This will allow us to work more closely with teachers to offer support and
provide industry news, highlight where the new technologies are, and help them advocate for more or
better funding for their department to encourage young people into the computing and tech subjects.”

Phil Ford, Head of Digital Technologies and Financial Services for Skills Development Scotland,
commented: “Creating a thriving digital sector is critical to future growth in the South of Scotland. This
programme provides a great opportunity for digital tech businesses to influence future skills and talent
to meet future economic demand in the area. Our goal is to ensure the curriculum is industry relevant,
that teachers are upskilled and sector savvy, and young people have an increased awareness of
digital career opportunities.”

In 2020, The Scottish Technology Ecosystem Report (STER) assessed the Scottish technology
sector, concluding that computing science should be treated as a core school subject in the same way
as maths and physics. It found that 13,000 digital tech job opportunities are created every year in
Scotland and filling all of them would add £1bn to Scotland’s economy.

The ‘Digital Critical Friends’ programme provides a unique opportunity for industry to share current
working practices with secondary schools, helping to shape our future curriculum and teaching

To get involved as a mentor or find out further information, contact ScotlandIS via

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