Leading tech firms launch programmes in London to inspire youngsters

Leading tech firms launch programmes in London to inspire youngsters

You know your initiative is onto a winner when companies such as Facebook, Intel, RIM and Cisco are backing it.

The UK government is looking to drive skill levels in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – and the aforementioned companies are among a group of tech firms launching a series of initiatives aimed at inspiring young people to study these subjects.

Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) is hosting an event in London today that will showcase the latest technology innovations emerging from Tech City, highlighting the potential of technology as a career path.

More than 50 young students will be at the event alongside representatives from Facebook, Intel, RIM and Cisco, as well as local tech startups such as Playmob and Apps for Good.

We reported on one of the new initiatives yesterday, with Facebook partnering with Apps for Good to launch a training course that enables young people to design and develop new social applications. Recruitment for the first pilot is now underway, taking place in Brixton, South London with unemployed 16-25 year olds. Participants will be taught how to design create, test, release, evaluate and maintain their own Facebook application.

Elsewhere, Thomson Reuters will sponsor three London schools – Central Foundation Girls’ School, St Matthew Academy and The Bridge Academy – through Apps for Good. The project aims to inspire young people to embrace technology and develop apps. The sponsorship will fully fund the project in the three schools.

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that makes Blackberrys, is launching Blackberry Hands-On Workshops, aimed at teaching 11-14-year-olds the basics of mobile technology. It includes the chance for students to dismantle a BlackBerry and see its inner-workings for themselves. More than 40 BlackBerry employees will deliver workshops to over 600 students, coinciding with the British Science Festival.

Cisco has also announced that it will be creating new Cisco Networking Academies across several schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Cisco Networking Academy is a global education programme that teaches students how to design, build, troubleshoot and secure computer networks.

e‑skills UK and a partnership of employers across the economy, including IBM, the BBC, Cisco, HP and Microsoft, are launching “Behind the Screen”, a programme to transform the IT curriculum. New GCSE and A-levels will cover computational principles, systemic thinking, software development and logic.

Intel is also launching the Intel STEM Fairs toolkit in partnership with the British Science Association. It’s an online tool to help teachers spark interest in science fairs amongst students and to create their own science fairs.

The National HE STEM Programme is a three-year initiative across England and Wales, hosted by the University of Birmingham, aimed at improving  the way universities recruit students and deliver courses within the STEM disciplines at university level. It focuses on engagement between universities, schools and colleges.

Eric van der Kleij, CEO of TCIO, said:

“Since November, we’ve seen a rapid rise in the number of new technology companies in the area. This event is about supporting the growth of Tech City at a grass roots level. Tech City thrives on creative, technically-savvy talent, and by demonstrating opportunities in this field to young people, we help to establish a burgeoning base of home-grown digital expertise”.

While recent reports indicate that A-level applications for STEM subjects are on the rise, the UK continues to rank outside the top 15 in maths and science results, according to the OECD, lagging behind nations including China, Japan, Poland, Estonia and Germany. TCIO is hoping to inspire students to enter into careers in relevant tech industries. Van der Kleij continues:

“We hope that by the end of the day, we will have inspired students to continue STEM subjects and helped them realise that there is a huge range of opportunities available to them, right here in London in Tech City. Whether it’s working for a start-up, setting up a business or building a career at an industry leading company, we – as an industry and a community – have a responsibility to ensure that young people know what opportunities are available to them.”

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