Scottish schools partner with tech firms to boost computer science skills

Teachers at 25 schools will work with professionals from the likes of Amazon, PwC and Leidos

A project across two local council areas in Scotland will pair secondary teachers with digital industry professionals in a bid to close the digital skills gap.

Dubbed the Digital Critical Friends programme, the scheme has been launched in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway regions. It is supported by two Scottish Government agencies – Skills Development Scotland and Developing the Young Workforce – and industry association ScotlandIS. 

Computer science teachers from 25 secondary schools across the two areas are taking part. They will be matched with professionals from organisations including PwC, Virgin Money, Amazon, Leidos, Morgan Stanley and Adobe, who will share information on current industry practices and feed into curriculum development.

ScotlandIS chief executive Karen Meechan said the aim is to ensure school children are properly equipped with the digital skills needed for the jobs of the future.

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“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,” she said. “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 at Skills Development Scotland, added: “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 found that 13,000 digital tech job opportunities are created every year in Scotland and that filling all of them would add £1bn to Scotland’s economy. It concluded that computing science should be treated as a core school subject in the same way as maths and physics.


Sam Trendall

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