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Raising Digital Engagement Pilot

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Raising Digital Engagement is a proof of concept project that seeks to raise digital careers aspiration with KS3 pupils in a mixed cohort of secondary schools across the Heart of the South West Lep Region. The project is taken forward by the LEP’s Digital Skills Partnership and the Careers Hub, and will be co-designed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Education, CyberFirst, STEM Learning, BCS and the South West Institute of Technology.

The talent pipeline for digital specialists is neither big enough nor diverse enough. Too few young people are choosing to pursue computing studies and digital careers. Unless the UK is able to grow the number of students pursing a digital career or taking computer science at GCSE and A level (2018 the number of students taking Geography or History at GCSE was roughly 4 times the figure of those choosing Computer Science) the UK will never close it’s significant digital skills gap. A lack of digital skills contributes to the UK’s low productivity and limits its ability to grasp economic opportunities particularly from the developments and application of new technologies.

Improvements have been made in wider careers education since the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy (ESE) concluded in its 2016 report – “Inadequate careers guidance in many English schools is exacerbating skills shortages and having a negative impact on the country’s productivity”. Improvements have been driven by the Careers and Enterprise Company and the publication of the Department for Education’s careers strategy in late 2017.  However, there remains a concern, that insufficient emphasise is not being placed on the need for digital skills in almost every job, nor the wide range and increasing number of well-paid digital careers available across almost all sectors.

This pilot will work with up to 15 secondary schools, reaching 10,000 students across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay to deliver 121 support to increase the school’s digital activity and deliver the following benefits:-

  •  Increasing pupils understanding of the wide range and varied well paid digital carers available.
  •  Increasing the school’s awareness of the importance of digital skills for all pupils.
  •  Increasing the volume of extracurricular digital and technology provision through clubs, competitions, events and engagement with tech organisations.
  •  Increasing the number of pupils taking GCSE Computer Science and IT User Skills or iMedia at Level 2, through showing the potential application of computing skills in varied jobs.

The Proof of Concept will achieve this through the following key milestones:

  1. Explore how the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) network of Enterprise Coordinators and Enterprise Advisers can provide insight on the school and college needs in the area.
  2. Explore how those needs can be mapped to support offered by the Technology sector and STEM supporters.
  3. Inform local, regional and national employers to drive engagement, investment and support for key activities.
  4. Deliver an impact assessment.
  5. Deliver a playbook that will be used to support other local Digital Skills Partnership’s to support the development of effective practice in digital skills career opportunities.