Almost three years to the day since we launched our Ambassador programme, I found myself at BETT, one of the world’s biggest showcases for education technology, to mark another incredible achievement.
We announced the extension of the programme into Scotland as we look to open 10 new innovation hubs north of the border in the next year.
This comes alongside a brand new OCR-backed training course for teachers who want to develop their ability to pass digital skills on to their students.
In this blog post, I’ll go into the growth of the programme in more detail and explain why it’s so important.
Reaching out to more students across the UK
Scotland was the natural place to expand our programme. We already have hubs in the region at Border College and Fife College that have shown us the huge potential for growth that exists there for digital skills
We also understand the unique character of Scotland and Scottish organisations, since we have plenty of customers in the region.
We’ve grown very rapidly in the past three years, building a total of 24 innovation hubs across the UK, which is hugely encouraging.
It shows us what we’re doing is valuable, welcomed by education institutions and their local communities.
We’re committed to reaching out to all areas of the country to get as many students involved in the programme as possible.
It doesn’t matter where a child lives or what type of educational institution they go to: it’s vital they can learn the digital skills they need to succeed in the future.
I’m proud to say we run our programme across the UK, specifically focussing on regions suffering from a lack of digital development, or special education needs schools where digital is not normally part of the curriculum.
This is part of my personal belief, which is very much echoed and supported by Fujitsu: every child matters, no matter who they are or where they come from and every student should have the opportunity to accelerate from education to employment in our digital economy.
Working with teachers to prepare young people for the digital economy
In tandem with the extension of our Ambassador programme into Scotland, we will be rolling out our new digital badge: a qualification for teachers who want to learn more about key technologies, which are vital for future success of the next generation.
Digital is transforming the economy. According to the Road to Digital Learning report, 87% of IT leaders say attracting digitally native staff will be vital to their success in the next three years.
Young people need to be ready for this digital economy if they’re to find successful, fulfilling jobs and keep powering the economy.
That’s why we’re developing the digital badge. A qualification awarded by Fujitsu. It empowers the people in charge of delivering knowledge and building skills for young people: the teachers.
Teachers are the transformational ingredient. If we can ensure their ability to pass on the right skills, we can be certain that our young people will be ready for the digital world.
The badge has been designed so that it focusses on six key technologies:
- Internet of things
- Virtual Reality/augmented reality
- Data analytics and big data
- Programming /Coding / Robotics
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Cognitive Computing
We chose these six with advice from the examining board OCR, our customers and our ambassadors because they will have the biggest impact on the jobs of tomorrow.
An application is required to take the qualification, explaining the teacher’s motivation for taking the badge and describing what they hope to learn from the programme.
The programme consists of online training combined with face to face training as the participant progresses on each of the key technologies. Each online module is roughly 30 minutes long and acts as a gateway to support and encourage the teachers to go further on their own.
Team learning is a big part of this stage as we want to equip teachers to deliver digital skills in a fun learning environment themselves.
Once teachers have carried out all levels of their training, they’ll be awarded the digital badge by Fujitsu, endorsed by OCR. It will be a recognised accreditation from Fujitsu, and will hopefully prove as useful to our teachers’ career development as it will be useful for enhancing our students’ skills.
Start by raising aspirations
The badge and the ambassador programme are all part of the same thing: raising the aspirations of young people in Britain today.
As experts in technology we have a responsibility to ensure we engage with learners and help them see technology as something accessible, valuable and fun.
The innovation hubs are great at doing this. They generate interest and excitement about technology across the whole student population in a school or college, so even those who have chosen not to study IT will still be exposed to the digital skills they need.
We always look for this when finding potential ambassador schools or colleges: we want to see ambassadors who are equally full of aspiration.
We’re excited to have found so many educational establishments that share our vision, and I’m sure we’ll find even more in the coming months as we aim to set up 30 innovation hubs by the end of 2018.
Education matters to everyone
After only three years, our work in education is already transforming the lives of young people up and down the country.
I’m inspired to work on improving digital skills in the UK, the positive impact that is being made to student outcomes through the ambassador programme which is ultimately developing the future generation of young talent for the UK.
I’ve seen first-hand how education can empower people, and help them succeed above and beyond what they thought they were capable of.
I want to see every student have the same opportunity to do more than they could have imagined, and this goal is one I share with Fujitsu.
As an organisation, we’re determined to be a responsible business – something we describe with the acronym ‘PACT’.
The first letter in PACT stands for ‘people’, and this exemplifies how we put people first in all our work.
This starts with the young people who will build the digital world of tomorrow.