Northern Ireland news

Initiative to encourage more young people to consider career in digital technologies

Mark Owens, Civica managing director (NI), Year 14 students from St. Patrick’s College, Dungannon and Michelle McIlveen, Minister for Education

AN initiative to encourage more young people in Northern Ireland to consider a career in digital technologies will take place next week.

NI Digital Awareness Week will give 11 to 18-year-olds a chance to try their hand at coding and hear first-hand from experts in the worlds of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and emerging technologies.

The event, organised by software provider Civica and partners across industry and education, will feature over 20 virtual talks, panel discussions and live demos from organisations including Microsoft, BT, IBM, NI-based software consultancy Instil, Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast.

It is hoped the initiative will highlight how the north has one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the UK, with both home-grown and global digital technology companies now accounting for one in every seven job vacancies.

Stormont's education and economy departments have jointly funded the event, which runs from October 18-22, to provide all participating schools with micro:bits to support the teaching of coding.

 

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said: "Northern Ireland has such a fast-growing and exciting technology industry and it’s vital that we encourage and nurture digital and STEM skills in our young people for the future.

"I’m pleased to show my support for NI Digital Awareness Week, which is an excellent opportunity for students to get more involved in new technologies.

"From coding to artificial intelligence, I look forward to seeing the inspirational ideas and innovation which will follow in the time ahead."

Economy minister Gordon Lyons added that it was "an excellent opportunity for teachers and pupils to work with businesses to find out about the importance of digital skills, their value in the workplace and the many exciting and different careers in the growing digital sector".

 

Mark Owens from Civica said: "Over the course of the week, we hope to inspire as many young people as possible to follow in the footsteps of the innovators who created the digital technologies we now take for granted and which have transformed our lives for the better".

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