“If we’re going to solve tomorrow’s global challenges, we must come together today to inspire young people everywhere with the promise of technology. We can’t leave anyone out.”
These were the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking at Dreamforce (the annual salesforce customers, partners and developers convention) earlier this week, following the announcement from Microsoft Corp. to commit $75 million in community programmes to increase access to computer science for young people worldwide over the next three years.
Through the international YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft is working to increase access for young people globally, and particularly those from under-represented backgrounds, to learn computer science, empowering them to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.
It is no secret that technology has permeated all aspects of our lives and now, almost every job requires at least a basic understanding of technology skills. For young people to achieve more, they need the skills and confidence to manage the digital world around them. We have a big role to play in getting young people excited about what they can do with technology and support teachers to implement the new Computer Science curriculum effectively.
In the UK, the number of students taking computer science is falling; in the last 12 years the number of UK computer science graduates has decreased by two thirds, and last year only 4,000 students took computer science at A-Level. The resulting skills gap is a major challenge for the UK economy.
We care deeply about helping people in the UK to succeed and achieve more through the best, most effective, uses of technology. That’s why we were at the forefront of the fight for the introduction of the new, compulsory Computer Science curriculum in school and we are supporting the teaching community through a wealth of online and face to face resources to deliver it, whilst helping to equip and inspire the next generation of developers.
There are lots of ways in which Microsoft is supporting the uptake of Computer Science, and assisting teachers with its delivery, including:
- The BBC micro:bit Earlier this year, Microsoft unveiled its partnership with the BBC to deliver the BBC micro:bit. Year 7 students across the UK will receive their very own pocket-sized codeable computing device; a device belonging to the individual child that can be used to explore the possibilities of computer science, both in and out of the classroom. Today, the BBC micro:bit website has launched and a series of books and resources have been distributed to teachers across the UK to help them get to grips with using the BBC micro:bit in the classroom.
- Microsoft Imagine In addition to the YouthSpark Hub resources designed to inspire young people about the full spectrum of computing skills, Microsoft Imagine connects students with the tools and resources needed to turn their innovative ideas into reality. Through the Imagine programme, younger kids can learn to code, whilst older children get to grips with programming and website development. The global Imagine Cup brings these young people from around the world together to showcase their ideas and compete across three categories for over $1 million in total prizes and workshops. This year’s competition saw UK team Siymb placed third overall in the Innovation Category.
- UK Youth Since 2012, Microsoft has been working with UK Youth to provide opportunities for more than 9,000 young people to access technology and learning resources, and develop their digital skills. Microsoft volunteers have worked together with UK Youth to visit schools, careers fairs, and hosted events at our premises over the last three years, to inform and inspire more than 30,000 young people about careers in tech.
- QuickStart Computing As well as providing young people with the necessary tools and access to computer science education, Microsoft has provided extensive support for teachers providing this education. Jointly funded by Microsoft and the Department for Education, QuickStart Computing gives primary and secondary school teachers a comprehensive CPD toolkit to help deliver the new national computing curriculum with confidence.
For more information about how Microsoft is helping young people achieve more through computer science, please visit the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub.