1 Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) - Helping the current generation become future pioneers

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Helping the current generation become future pioneers

23 March 2016

With the aim of inspiring school children towards tech careers, the BBC micro:bit pocket-sized computer has finally been introduced to thousands of UK schools.

According to ARM, NXP and Nordic, the BBC micro:bit can have the same impact the BBC Microcomputer had in the 1980s, by instilling a passion for coding in British school children.

The pocket-sized computers featuring ARM-based NXP microprocessors and Nordic Bluetooth chips has been placed in the hands of thousands of 11-12 year old children as one million devices started arriving in UK schools on 22 March. It has been delivered to every year 7 student in England and Wales, year 8 students in Northern Ireland and S1 students in Scotland.

The initiative aims to inspire digital creativity in a new generation of innovators pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related careers.

“The BBC Micro started me on my journey towards a career in technology and the BBC micro:bit can have the same effect on children receiving their devices,” said Simon Segars, CEO of ARM. “The ability to code is now as important as grammar and mathematics skills and it can unlock important new career options. I can easily imagine a new wave of design entrepreneurs looking back and citing today as the day their passion for technology began.”

“Children seem to love the high-tech devices they use every day but perhaps they don’t always aspire to one day design their own products,” said Svenn Tore Larsen, CEO of Nordic Semiconductor. “With the Nordic nRF51822 Bluetooth Smart SoC providing the connectivity for the micro:bit, we are helping to change that by enabling young people to engage with smart technologies and learn valuable new coding skills from a young age. The chip has an ARM Cortex-M0 core at its heart, connecting micro:bits to each other and to the wider world.”

“This is a proud moment in the advancement of technology and education,” said Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP. “We’re inspiring new secure connections for the smarter world by joining with the BBC and our industry partners in this program. Together, everyone involved in the BBC micro:bits initiative is truly stimulating innovation, motivating the next generation of technologists, scientists and entrepreneurs in their pursuit of a better future.”

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has launched a series of events, as part of its Coding the Future initiative, aimed at inspiring and nurturing the next generation of UK coders. The events have been developed in conjunction with a number of UK-based leading technology organisations.

The drop-in events are part of the BBC’s Make It Digital campaign. The Coding the Future events will be giving children and their parents the opportunity to explore their own BBC micro:bit in more depth. The events will also offer practical hints and tips needed to get the best results from their device – whether it be developing code for their very own games, or learning how to overcome tricky error codes.

In addition, IET experts will be on hand at the Coding the Future events to give children and their parents information about the exciting career opportunities available in the UK’s coding, technology and engineering sectors.

Alison Carr, Policy Director of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “The digital world is evolving all the time – and with it, the demand for more young people with coding and digital skills. It’s great to be supporting BBC Make it Digital to promote the world of digital creativity through coding and inspire the next generation to get involved.

“Our collaboration with organisations such as Intel and Thales to develop the Coding the Future event will give children and their parents some great insight and hands on experience about what it’s like to be a coder – developing the code needed for the everyday computer processes we often take for granted.

“Experts from the IET will be on hand at all of these events to give the answers to any of the burning questions parents or their children have about careers in the coding, technology or engineering sectors.”

To find out more visit the IET Faraday web page.

A new report from EngineeringUK, ‘The State of Engineering’, analyses the engineering industry’s capacity for growth and details engineering in education, training and employment. Now in its eighteenth year, the report provides the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community, Government, industry and the third sector with a compelling evidence base.

There are three overriding messages from the report. Firstly, that engineering and skilled engineers make a significant contribution to the UK economy and its productivity as well as working towards mitigating the grand global challenges of climate change, ageing populations, food, clean water and energy.

Secondly, that the UK at all levels of education does not have the current capacity or the required rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers and technicians by 2022.

Thirdly, through concerted and co-ordinated action, the engineering community and employers in particular can make a demonstrable difference by working with schools and colleges to inspiring future generations to pursue relevant qualifications and go on to careers in engineering.

Engineering is a vital part of the UK economy - engineering employers have the potential to generate an additional £27 billion per year from 2022. This is equivalent to the cost of building 1,800 secondary schools or 110 new hospitals.

If the UK is to benefit economically from this, we will need to meet the forecasted demand for 257,000 new vacancies in engineering enterprises in the same timescale. The importance of engineering is significant not only economically but also with regards to employment, as for every new engineering role an additional two jobs are created in the economy.

On behalf of the engineering community EngineeringUK calls for collaborative action across government, engineering businesses, the education sector and the wider engineering community to realise these recommendations:

• A doubling of the number of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple sciences.

• A two-fold increase in the number of Advanced Apprenticeship achievements.

• A doubling of the number of engineering and technology and other related STEM and non-STEM graduates who are known to enter engineering occupations.

• Provision of careers inspiration for all 11-14 year olds.

• Support for teachers and careers advisors delivering careers information.

To read the full report click here.

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