BBC to draw on broadcasting might to educate kids in tech


The BBC has set out plans to help address the UK IT skills gap by using its broadcasting might to inspire more children to develop an interest in computer coding and digital technologies.

The Corporation said it plans to use its TV, radio and online resources to provide its audience with the tools they need to become more tech-savvy.

In a statement, the BBC said this will become a major focus for the organisation from 2015 onwards.

"From working with children and young people, to stimulating a national conversation about digital creativity, the BBC will help audiences embrace technology and get creative," it said.

"Whether it's apps, websites, games, computer code, robotics or digital art, a range of BBC tools and resources will give people the skills to solve problems, tell stories and build new businesses in the digital world."

The initiative harks back to the days, 30 years ago, when the BBC played an active role in providing schoolchildren with their first experience of personal computing through the introduction of its BBC Micro device to schools across the UK.

The 8-bit system was built by Acorn Computers as part of the BBC's Computer Literacy Project, and the Corporation said it intends to partner with the tech industry this time around to deliver on its aims.

"Partnerships will be at the heart of this initiative, enabling the BBC to explore ideas and opportunities with the industry and help amplify their inspiring work in this area," the BBC statement continued.

"The BBC will work closely with a range of local, national and international partners across several sectors, including the Government, educators and technology companies."

Encouraging young people to develop an interest in how computers work is considered a key part in helping to solve the IT skills crisis, with members of the vendor, end user and education community regularly lamenting the shortage of skilled individuals in the UK.

Ralph Rivera, director of Future Media at the BBC, said the Corporation wants to reignite the nation's interest in computing.

"Digital skills are absolutely fundamental in the modern world, and we're in a unique position to help people develop them and provide a safe online playground to try them out," said Rivera.

"We want to transform the nation's ability and attitude towards coding and bring together different organisations already working in this area."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.