Volunteering for the Digital Critical Friends Programme
What is the Digital Critical Friends programme?
The programme is a partnership between the tech sector body ScotlandIS, Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow and Glasgow City Council secondary schools. Created to bridge the skills gap by helping local industries form valuable relationships with a local school. The programme ultimately aims to inspire more young people to pursue a career in tech.
I volunteered to be part of the programme in Autumn 2021 and was matched with St Margaret’s High School in North Lanarkshire. I felt this was a really important programme to be part of as it allowed teachers in school to have a ‘digital friend’ that worked in the tech sector that they could ask questions to and hopefully inspire some pupils .
I spoke to one of my colleagues for some help to identify how I could work with the students. She has previously run lots of college and school interactions and gave me an example of a football club whereby she asks pupils what kind of jobs are linked to a football club. I thought this approach but replacing the football club with a software services company could be really useful to show the pupils what type of roles there are, the types of skills and backgrounds you may need or be interested in to fulfil such roles.
I worked on a presentation where I explored all the types of roles in PDMS and had some profiles and backgrounds of our staff, trying to link roles to subjects the pupils could be currently studying at school.
A developer was an obvious one and certainly something that a lot of the pupils had heard of but discussing analysis and testing jobs where skills such as good attention to detail and probem-solving was something that a lot of students hadn’t considered.
If pupils are keen on art and design or have a creative flair, a design role could be good and something for pupils to explore too as a possible future career. It was good to show that some of our staff have worked their way up from juniors to directors and that there are many different routes into our line of work from school, college or university.
I delivered the presentation to around 100 S3 pupils. Not unexpectedly the first question asked was 'How much do you earn in this job?' but the teachers were keen to ask what type of programming languages we use and are there any opportunities for work experience. I know PDMS has great links with schools and colleges in the Isle of Man, so I hope this is something we can explore and expand upon in Scotland too.
"It is such a massive sector and provides such a wide range of jobs it would be great to feel we are giving a bit back and helping to grow the young workforce. I am delighted to hear that one of our Analysts in the Glasgow office has signed up to take part in this programme and I look forward to continuing to be involved with the scheme."