Vodafone Foundation has launched the ‘Digital Creators’ Challenge’, a new digital skills competition for secondary schools across the UK*. The programme, which is open to 11-14 year olds, aims to improve young people’s understanding of tech and how it can be used to help the communities in which they live. It will also look to build their digital skills and encourage them to explore a future career in technology.

The challenge, presented in partnership with Teach First, Hopscotch and Apps for Good, will run between September 2019 and January 2020. It will invite young people to work together to design an app to improve lives in their local community, with the chance to win up to £6,000 to spend on IT equipment. Tech advice and practical training will be provided by Vodafone and Apps for Good experts, alongside access to online materials including workbooks and toolkits. In addition, selected schools in government identified Opportunity Areas will be invited to participate in one of ten app development days to help them progress their ideas. In March 2020, shortlisted finalists will be invited to Vodafone’s Technology Hub in Newbury, where they will get to see first-hand how a leading tech company works and showcase their final entries to a panel of tech experts.

Helen Lamprell, Trustee of the Vodafone Foundation and General Counsel and External Affairs Director for Vodafone UK said: “A recent report found only 2.7% of students** chose computing or computer science qualifications at A-Level in the UK. This suggests a digital skills gap in the younger generation – the future workforce for our digital age. Research also shows that girls are under-represented in this area. The Digital Creators’ Challenge aims to close this gap, by building students’ digital skills; raising awareness of the digital careers available at Vodafone and the wider industry; and increasing diversity across technology.”

Previous workshops hosted by partner Apps for Good have shown that after taking part, 53% of students were more interested in specialising in computing and IT during school and further studies, and half of students were more interested in working in the tech sector in the future. Furthermore, 68% of students improved their problem solving skills, 80% of students improved their product design skills and 70% of students improved their confidence.

Schools and community groups are invited to register their interest from today at https://careers.vodafone.co.uk/the-digital-creators-challenge. The programme will run between September 2019 and January 2020, with the winning submission announced in March 2020.