Local community development charity TDC (Trust for Developing Communities) are joining forces with some of Brighton’s most exciting tech businesses and educators to launch a ‘Tech Trail’ around the city to inspire young people to consider a career in digital technology.
TDC are aiming to engage young people and local tech companies to solve an industry problem, a city problem and a skills problem all in one go by connecting with each other.
The trail, which takes place between 2nd and 5th October, will form part of the Brighton Digital Festival and is designed to inspire young people to think about a career in the technology industries. The event will lead youngsters on a route around Brighton, a world-renowned digital hub – taking in a number of digital work places along the way. The idea is to inspire pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the opportunities available to them if they choose to follow a career in tech.
Not only will the Tech Trail provide an opportunity for young people, but will also help address a problem that affects businesses in the city: the tech skills gap
Participants on the Tech Trail will have the chance to step through the doors of some of the city’s most innovative companies including Propellernet, Drum, Ideal, Pragmatic, Brandwatch and Latest TV amongst many others. The young people will see first-hand what a tech workplace looks like and will be able to try interactive experiences designed to increase their understanding of what these companies do. They will also have a unique opportunity to talk to young employees about what it’s like to have a tech career in digital hub Brighton.
Earlier this year, charitable foundation the Nominet Trust undertook research to explore the barriers preventing disadvantaged young people from gaining digital skills. A key finding was that those least likely to have digital skills are also most likely to be facing multiple forms of disadvantage and are among the hardest-to-reach in our society.
Though Brighton & Hove appears an affluent city, it contains some wards in which 33% of children are growing up in poverty. Overall, 41% of Brighton’s children live in the most deprived parts of the city. These areas are home to 25% of BAME residents and 25% of those living with a disability, groups typically underrepresented in the tech industries.
And another recent study – the 2017 consumer digital index, found that at least 300,000 young people, or 3%, of those aged 15-24 in the UK, are lacking in basic digital skills. This includes the ability to use a search engine to find information and to complete an online application form.
TDC’s Business Development Manager Ruth Chapman explains why the event is so important. “Brighton and Hove is home to so many children who live in the same city as us but who are growing up in a very different place. “The ‘Tech Trail’ aims to tackle two problems: the low number of work and training opportunities for disadvantaged young people in our city as well as the shortage of talent and diversity in the tech talent pool for companies that actually want to recruit home-grown talent. If we can connect the dots between the two – inspiring young people with some of the amazing companies in our digital hub city of Brighton & Hove, whilst increasing pupils’ understanding of what a tech company is, we will hopefully see change begin to happen – we would like to see growth in the number of young people taking up STEM subjects at school, joining clubs, signing up to college courses or coming up with their own new tech ideas.
“Many of the young people we work with have never been given the chance to see inside a workplace, let alone talked to tech professionals about what they do. The Tech Trail will physically take young people into different places of work showing them precisely what a tech workplace looks like, who works there and what tech means to them. It will also give them a firsthand look at the tech going on in Brighton and the potential in this sector, hopefully driving them to make it their future. Each firm will host young people for between 1 and 2 hours, giving them the chance to chat to staff and see what the businesses do. The Tech Trail has the potential to truly change the course of some young people’s lives.
“TDC are committed to supporting young people and providing opportunities but also crucially, to equipping them with the tools they need to progress their own future. This initiative sees us working with educators to make sure the Tech Trail experience is backed up by real information about how to make a tech career a viable option”
Ruth elaborates: “The event is designed to face-up to some of the existing issues around STEM – that it’s a tough course to study, it is not practical and exciting, it has limited career options, it’s for boys and you need to be ultra-bright to work /study in that area.We also tackle the idea that employment opportunities in exciting businesses are only open to those who have a degree or come from a more affluent background. We hope that by seeing themselves that businesses are actively looking for talent from different cultural backgrounds, or with varied life experiences, young people will feel empowered to take the next steps.”
The event is targeted at young people who are interested in gaming, apps, shopping online, VR, television, digital networking and cyber security and TDC hopes it will open doors to young people who would not normally be given this kind of experience. Further details can be found on the Brighton Digital Festival website and registration is via Eventbrite.