Digital Youth Programme Showcase 2018

‘Digital Youth’, the award-winning technology programme first launched by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in 2017, recently partnered up with Google Digital Garage at a special event in The Market Place Theatre, Armagh on Thursday 7 June 2018.

Delivered to 15 schools across the borough by Young Enterprise NI, with teacher development by MakeMatic, the programme, which was named overall winner in the ‘Digital Skills’ category at the NextGen Digital Challenge Awards 2017, has developed the digital skills of over 500 young people this year.

As part of the Digital Youth programme, students have participated in Digital Masterclass events learning about the digital sector, and developing their own ideas for business concepts incorporating use of new digital technology. The top students from each school came together at the event to showcase their learning gained through the programme, and hear from Google experts on how to take their ideas forward using Digital Marketing and Social Media skills.

The Google Digital Garage digital skills training platform is the culminating highlight of the Digital Youth experience, where students learn how to grow their business, career and confidence online.

Google Digital Garage experts shared their knowledge and insight on what is needed to gain a competitive advantage in the ever changing digital landscape, giving students a head start as they prepare for the world of work.

Speaking at the event, Lord Mayor, Councillor Julie Flaherty, said: “We are delighted to welcome Google Digital Garage to the borough and greatly appreciate their involvement with Digital Youth.

Following on from the successful delivery of this pioneering programme last year, I applaud its return given the tremendous potential it offers in expanding students’ digital literacy knowledge in areas such as coding, app development, robotics, digital photography and filmmaking . The programme greatly enhances their exposure and builds confidence so that they may consider pursuing a career in the fast growing digital technology sector.

It’s equally exciting to learn that teachers can now also participate in the programme and access vital professional development video learning. After all they are key to delivering digital skills and supporting our efforts to cultivate a digital enterprise culture in the borough.”

Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive with Young Enterprise NI, the local charity responsible for delivering the programme on behalf of the council added: “Young people are growing up surrounded by digital technology, and it’s vital we support them to understand how they apply these tools into the world of work to become the digital specialists that businesses need.

We commend the investment of the council in supporting young people to develop these skills and to learn directly from Digital Ambassadors who are the local role models of successful business people in the local area. This programme will raise awareness amongst all students, whether they study IT or not, that the development of their digital expertise will be essential for their future success.”

This year through Digital Youth over 500 students in 12 local secondary schools have developed a stronger foundation in digital skills, in line with the council’s recently launched Digital Strategy.

Schools participating in ‘Digital Youth’ are Markethill High School, City of Armagh High School, St Patrick’s High School Keady, Tandragee Junior High School, Banbridge Academy, St Patrick’s College, New Bridge Integrated College, Dromore High School, Rathfriland High School, Clounagh Junior High School, Killicomaine Junior High School, Lismore Comprehensive, Brownlow Integrated College, St John the Baptist College, and Lurgan College.

Digital Ambassadors working with the students throughout the programme have been impressed by the high quality of innovative ideas the participants have produced, including the ‘SMART Kennel’ concept from City of Armagh High School that incorporates daylight sensors, food and water dispensers, and a built in massager that dogs can roll on to brush their fur, saving grooming time. Another highlight was the Handy Hands concept from Clounagh Junior High School which uses smart gloves & Virtual Reality screens to allow users to operate a small robot to help those with limited physical ability complete household tasks they find difficult.

Teachers have also had the opportunity to develop their skills with the provision of professional development learning videos from MakeMatic, allowing them to access a range of classroom resources, to become more digitally literate so that they can support digital learning in the classroom.

Through this programme, the council aims to harness young people’s entrepreneurial drive as well as equip them with specific digital skills that are increasingly sought after by employers.