Digital Summer Trip: inspiring the next generation of tech minds

London event returns for second year

Leading Digital Companies to Come Together to Inspire the Next Generation

The children and young adults of today need a very different skill-set to their predecessors if they are to succeed in our increasingly digital world.

With concerns regularly voiced over a perceived IT skills gap among younger generations, groups such as those behind the Digital Summer Trip are doing their utmost to engage youngsters with the world of tech and produce a digital-ready workforce.

The second Digital Summer gathering took place this weekend in London, so we spoke to organiser Ed Baker to find out why events like this are so important.

TechRadar Pro: What is the Digital Summer Trip and why has the event been created?

Edward Baker: We hosted the first Digital Summer Trip in summer 2013 - to connect young people, interested in digital skills and digital careers, to some of the 48,000 digital, media and creative companies in Greater London.

We based the event in the heart of Tech City - Hackney Community College - East London, as there is a high density of 5,000 tech companies here, many of them looking for young, digital talent to help them grow their business.

This year, DST festival supported schools and students facing the changes in the school computing curriculum, with a thought-leadership conference at the heart of the event called 'Digital Skills Summit'.

We've created an environment that helps educators raise their ICT CPD and supports young people in learning new digital skills, and exploring digital career paths.

Digital Summer Trip was not a straight forward STEM ('Science Technology Engineering and Maths) or a careers festival - we're a next-generation STEM event, that brings together tech startups, creative agencies and social marketing companies with teachers and students.

TRP: What does the curriculum change mean for teachers and students?

EB: The UK is one of the only countries in Europe that has made computing science part of the curriculum - with every secondary school teaching this important skill from this September.

We provided a destination for tech companies to connect with young people and an environment that helps all educators, from ICT and DT teachers to career advisors, to connect with companies that support this important change.

We also invited the UK's leading technology entrepreneurs, including Brent Hoberman and Michael Acton Smith, to come down to the event and inspire the next-generation of digital leaders.

TRP: Who will be attending the Digital Summer Trip?

EB: We had lots of schools and students from around the South East, but last year schools from as far afield as Plymouth and Swindon also coached-in to East London - such was the draw of the event and the desire to connect their students with leading companies. We think the same thing happened this weekend.

Saturday supported an older cohort of students looking to connect with apprenticeship providers, to explore apprenticeships in digital and creative industries in Tech City, and was also designed for families keen on exploring digital skills.

TRP: How important do you think it is to get young people engaged with technology?

EB: If the UK is going to maintain its leadership in the digital, media and creative sectors - it's vital that we inspire boys and girls to consider a digital career path.

Moreover, we feel learning digital and digital entrepreneurship go hand in hand - so we're keen to help young people explore entrepreneurial ambitions.

TRP: How does the event encourage young people to learn digital skills?

EB: DST is a hands-on festival, based around a series of digital workshops; from hands-on programming sessions to video production, graphic design seminars to fire-side chats with leading entrepreneurs.

It is less science fair or a careers show and more focused around short, meaningful workshops. Our aim is to connect visitors with real-world technology companies to explore new learning products, tools and resources.

As well as to inspire visitors to start-up their own business, learn new digital skills, or explore digital career paths.

TRP: How does the event inspire young people to explore the digital job market?

EB: DST brings together the UK's digital companies as well as tech companies from the US and provides a platform for visitors to meet leading technology companies and technology startups.

We've created themed zones, such as the Apprenticeship Pavilion, and other zones such as Future Study Zone, with FE and HE digital, creative and media departments.

TRP: How did organisations benefit from attending the event?

EB: DST has been designed to promote digital skills and digital career paths to a balanced mix of young people, educators and mums and dads!

We had two days, 3rd and 4th July, designed to support schools and students, and Saturday 5th July was designed to support young people (up to undergraduate level) and parents, interested in new technology and digital education.

TRP: What do you think was the highlight of this year's Digital Summer Trip?

EB: We were very proud to have Brent Hoberman, the founder of LastMinute.com, opening the event on the 3rd of July, and Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and Moshi Monsters, coming down to the event on Saturday 5th July, so those appearances stood out as highlights.

We worked hard to pool together over 100 companies in Tech City - who are keen to engage young people and share their skills and exciting new tech.

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