In the latest column from the chair of the Digital Economies Skills Group, a public and private sector partnership guiding Skills Development Scotland’s work on digital careers, Ross Tuffee urges tech companies to get involved directly with schools to inspire the next generation of ‘digital humans’.

Digital technology is crucial to so many parts of our lives, now more than ever, particularly when it comes to skills and jobs. It’s therefore vital that we inspire pupils to enhance their digital capability and understand the myriad of great and well-paid jobs that are available in tech.

And that’s where you come in. Past experience of SDS and others has shown the most effective way to promote digital technology careers to young people is by giving them access to people actually doing the jobs today. You have unique real-world experiences which resonate with the pupils, and you can give them unrivalled insight – in the most impassioned way – into what it’s really like to work in the exciting world of tech.

There are many ways to get involved in the school classroom, so SDS has joined forces with others to create a ‘one-stop shop’ guide to getting involved. No matter how much time you can spare, from half an hour to a full week, you will find a way to give something back to the communities that you operate in.

One such programme is Tech Industry in the Classroom run by SDS. This allows you to co-create and design lessons plans with teachers, and talk directly to school pupils in a live and engaging way, about your role, your company and your sector. By answering pupils’ questions about working in tech you help them better understand the digital world, and by talking about the team members and colleagues that you work with, you can introduce them to the huge variety of roles in the tech industry.

It is truly rewarding stuff. The comments below are from those involved in the pilot programme:

Elisha Cooper, CGI

“All our staff get an annual allocation of time to do volunteer work, and what better way to use that time than to inspire the younger generation to see a tech career as both fulfilling and potentially lucrative.”

Laura Casci, BJSS

“We got involved with Tech Industry in the Classroom as it aligns with our belief in helping young people from all backgrounds to develop the digital skills they need to thrive in the future. Furthermore, it has become increasingly important for organisations to create a rich digital talent pool, which organisations like BJSS can tap into as we continue to grow, which ultimately is great for Scotland’s economy. “

Scott Fraser, Virgin Money

“This programme is a fantastic initiative. There is a wide range of career paths within financial services, so this is a great opportunity to provide schoolchildren with insight into the important role IT and cyber security plays in delivering cutting-edge digital experiences for customers while ensuring their accounts are safe. And in this digital world, giving the children some awareness of data protection and privacy is a really important life skill as well.”

Tech Industry in the Classroom – and the many other initiatives provided by the other partners – offer you a great opportunity to personally inspire the “digital humans” of the future by supporting teachers and learners in our schools. So sign up now to not only help plug the tech sector skills gap, but also contribute to a brighter digital future for Scotland’s young people.

Partners involved in Tech industry in the Classroom include Barefoot, the Digital Xtra Fund, dresscode, Developing the Young Workforce, Education Scotland, Founders4Schools, Glasgow Science Centre, ScotlandIS, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Tech Army, SSERC/STEM Ambassadors and the Young Person’s Guarantee.