Forty young people from disadvantaged communities have signed up to do a tech course with Scotland’s digital skills academy.

The young people aged 16 to 21 from across Edinburgh and Glasgow are to enrol on a free summer course at CodeClan, the national digital skills provider.

They were identified via the Scottish Teachers Advancing Computing Science (STACS) network before applying online to join the academy’s wait list.

But CEO Loral Quinn called on entrepreneurs and the business community to help get more diversity into tech ecosystem – by helping to fund some of the organisation’s equalities work.

She said: “Sponsoring a student through CodeClan Youth Academy is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs, or businesses, to ‘pay it forward’ and help these young people towards a career in tech. The Youth Academy is free for all students with sponsored places; we’ve got 40 individuals on the waitlist, and we would find places for many more if we could secure more sponsorship.”

She added: “We need to get more diversity in tech now; we don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time and realise that we didn’t take action when it was most needed.” 

The applicants are for the the organisation’s 2023 Youth Academy, with plans to take 40 16-21 year-olds into its free summer courses in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which take place this July.  

The cost for sponsoring a student through the Youth Academy in July is £3,000; it is also possible for organisations and individuals to cover the £10,000 per student costs for the 16-week Professional Software Developer and 14-week Professional Data Analysis programmes, while smaller contributions starting at £1,000 can also be made.  

Quinn added: “Across Glasgow and Edinburgh, there is a high percentage of secondary schools in Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) zones, and we really want to change the trajectory of young people by giving them an opportunity to transform their lives through jobs in tech.” 

Mark Logan, Scotland’s chief entrepreneur, said: “CodeClan’s youth academy model is an outstanding initiative that creates genuinely life-changing opportunities for young people while simultaneously expanding the talent pool for Scotland’s tech companies, and all using CodeClan’s proven training excellence.  With scale participation from individuals and businesses across Scotland, the scheme could be transformational in both economic and societal terms.  There’s no better way for the tech community to contribute to Scotland’s future.” 

CodeClan has placed over 2,000 students with over 300 organisations, including hiring partners like Skyscanner, FanDuel, Baillie Gifford, DC Thomson, BlackRock, Tesco Bank, and Sainsbury’s Bank.

The CodeClan Youth Academy is closely linked to CodeClan’s Emerging Talent Fund, which was launched earlier this year in response to a shortage of women, LGBTQ, and people from underrepresented ethnic groups in tech.