The digital skills gap continues to dominate headlines and present a challenge for the technology industry and beyond. Enhancing Britain’s ability to compete on the world stage with a highly skilled, digitally-savvy workforce needs continued effort at all levels of society. Arguably, despite huge investment and engagement with digital initiatives, Britain is still suffering from a digital drought.
Getting children interested in STEM and the tech industry at a young age, just as I did over 30 years ago, is one good way of taking steps to address this skills gap – as well as tackling the myth amongst young people and their parents that STEM topics are “just for boys”. We think that the tech industry also has a moral responsibility to show all children why tech is fun – and foster interest and curiosity about all things digital.
That’s why Citrix is proud to announce that we are entering into partnership with the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge (CCH), UK, as part of our global corporate citizenship programme.
The Citrix site in Cambridge is one of our global engineering innovation hubs. It’s important that any corporate citizenship initiative reflects our core values of integrity, respect, curiosity, courage and unity, as well as the very ethos of Citrix Cambridge – inspiring innovation. Over three years, this agreement with CCH will give 10,000 students (both from schools across the UK, and foreign exchange students) access to a practical hands-on workshop that develops their computing skills and understanding of IT and technology.
The CCH is dedicated to creating a space that is engaging and instructive and, most importantly, getting school children excited about what’s possible with tech. Visiting the CCH is truly like stepping back in time. The very first computer I owned — a BBC Model B dating back to 1983 — is just one of hundreds of working examples inside the facility. It was this very device that sparked my initial interest in computing and put me on a career path working in IT.
Last year, the Centre’s learning team piloted a range of optional practical workshops for visiting groups of students. Take-up and feedback was very positive, and the activity workshops in particular were cited as a fantastic experience that really enhanced the youngsters’ understanding of computing.
We’re now working with CCH to take that programme a step further, by offering the workshops to all everyone from Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11) to post-16 (ages 16-18), who visit the Centre as part of their educational experience. The workshops will raise the quality of the experience for every child visiting, as well as supporting schools in improving tech standards through key hands-on activities. What better way to invest in a digitally savvy future generation than practicing what we preach, and making tech fun for schoolchildren of all ages?
As part of this agreement, Citrix has also launched an exhibition at the Centre for Computing History, focusing on all things cyber security.
Designed by the security architecture team at Citrix Cambridge, the exhibition will cover a range of topics, from the history of computer security, through to the internet of things and WiFi sniffing. Working with CCH, our goal is to help more young people – to the tune of over 10,000 in the area – realise the power, potential and opportunity of technology.
Times and technologies have certainly changed, yet I am convinced that all children visiting CCH today can get that same spark of inspiration and be introduced to the literally thousands of opportunities that exist in the field of technology, both today and tomorrow. Make sure that you drop by if you are in the area!