A global IT consulting giant has reached more than 900 pupils across Scotland with its digital explorers programme.

Tata Consultancy Services, an Indian multinational technology firm, has been working to get pupils aged 11 to 18 across the central belt interested in technology.

Through its Digital Explorers Programme, the company gave students at 20 schools across the Lothians, Central, Strathclyde and Fife the opportunity to learn how to code their own robots using coloured patterns and employing artificial intelligence to get it to perform tasks.

The highlight for many students was the chance to create and pitch their own tech start-up ideas to investors in the tech industry, led by TCS’ delivery partners EDT (Engineering Development Trust).

Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy, joined school pupils at a special event to promote the government’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) at Easter Road Stadium, home to Hibernian FC, in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

She said: “STEM is a hugely exciting field, with phenomenal opportunities available for those who want to get involved. Digital technologies are forecast to be the fastest growing sector by 2024 and will play a leading role in the future Scottish economy. It’s imperative our future workforce is equipped with the necessary digital skills to fuel our economy and that’s why it’s fantastic to see TCS engage with an immense number of students through its Digital Explorers programme. It’s also great to see industry partners such as TCS take the lead and help pave the way by inspiring our young people for a digital future.”

A teacher from Our Lady’s High School, one of the schools taking part, said: “Targeted information like the panel discussion opens the pupils’ eyes to what is possible. A good variety of tech teachers were represented. I enjoyed the Ozbots and might get a set for my classes!”

Gopalan Rajagopalan, Country Head, TCS Scotland, said: “Demand for digital skills is sky-rocketing at a pace that the current UK talent pool can’t keep up with. According to a report we conducted with the CBI, the UK is at a tipping point and it’s up to the industry to work with third-parties and the government to skill the future workforce and keep pace with business needs.Digital technologies significantly contribute to the economy in Scotland as well as supporting local employment opportunities. That’s why it’s crucial we play our part in inspiring the next generation to pursue a career in STEM with the TCS Digital Explorers programme.”

TCS also launched a new set of workshops called ‘TCS Girls in Digital’ aimed at encouraging young female students to get involved in STEM, and explore technical and business concepts like machine learning, coding, and systems applications, and how tech can be used to solve societal problems. The program has reached over 800 girls in Scotland so far and by the end of the fiscal year, the figure is expected to cross 1,000.

TCS Digital Explorers and TCS Girls in Digital are part of TCS’ wider IT Futures programme, which aims to nurture the IT talent of tomorrow, and focuses on young people in schools, colleges and universities, as well as their influencers – teachers, parents, and peers. Working closely with charities, social enterprises, and TCS employees, IT Futures has already reached 300,000 students directly since its launch in 2013, with participation from over 1600 TCS employee volunteers.