Red Hat, Lord Wandsworth College and University of Surrey Collaborate to Inspire the UK’s Next Generation of Digital Talent

LONDON

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced it is collaborating with Lord Wandsworth College (LWC), an independent school for girls and boys aged 11 to 18, and the University of Surrey, a  public research university specialising in science, engineering, medicine and business, on the Open Schools Coding Competition, designed to inspire the next generation of coders and software developers. In so doing, the competition hopes to contribute to building the UK’s digital talent pool.

With the Open Schools Coding Competition we aim to help pupils discover that there are exciting, creative and varied career path options in computer science.

Hayley Wienszczakmanager of Strategic Alliances and ISV Projects, Red Hat EMEA

The competition is now in its second year, with 10 schools and approximately 100 students in the UK taking part. The competition aims to engage children ahead of making their subject choices for GCSE, so it is open to Key Stage 3 students. It challenges teams of students to use any free visual programming environment to create a gaming app that will help a charity of their choice. The competition enables participants to apply the basic principles of open source software development and open collaboration to solve a real world problem, in a fun and competitive environment, with the opportunity to win a prize for their team and recognition for their school. In choosing a charitable cause, each student can gain a sense of how they can use digital skills to make their own contribution to addressing societal challenges, and how open source technology and methodology can drive positive change in the world.

The competition will conclude in a grand final taking place on 26 June at the University of Surrey, where the teams will demonstrate their apps. On the day, teams will receive feedback from the Red Hat judges, who are experienced software programmers, and will have a chance to exchange techniques and ideas with each other and talk about how they overcame any problems. Additionally, the teams will benefit from hearing from recent Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates, who are currently in Red Hat’s graduate programme in the UK. The winning team will be announced at the event.

There is a growing need in the UK for digital skills, and efforts to close this gap can start from when children are in school. In 2017 there were 2.1 million UK jobs in the digital tech economy, according to the 2018 Tech Nation Report. An estimated 1.2 million more people with specialist digital skills are needed by 2022 according to the UK government, yet access to talent is a top challenge for doing business as identified by 55 percent of communities surveyed by Tech Nation. Through the competition, Red Hat, Lord Wandsworth College and University of Surrey hope to emphasise the opportunities and enjoyment children can gain from STEM, help them understand how open collaboration can help solve problems faster, and contextualise classroom learning by developing apps for the real world supported by industry experts and academics.

The Open Schools Coding Competition embodies Red Hat’s commitment to educating and empowering the next generation of open source leaders; other initiatives include CO.LAB, presented by Open Source Stories.

Supporting Quotes
Hayley Wienszczak, manager of Strategic Alliances and ISV Projects, Red Hat EMEA
“With the Open Schools Coding Competition we aim to help pupils discover that there are exciting, creative and varied career path options in computer science. It is uplifting hearing from last year’s competition finalists who talk about the fun they had working in a team; some were coding their first ever app and were inspired to do more; others commented how much they appreciated meeting other teams and sharing ideas. Ultimately, they are learning that with some basic coding skills, accessible open tools, and the power of collaboration, their generation can together make a positive impact far beyond what would be possible as an individual.”

Chris Millington, head of computing, Lord Wandsworth College
“We wanted to create an inclusive, inter-school competition that would give students the opportunity to take computing beyond the classroom – to give them an idea of how it works in the real world, how their output could be used – to show them the ‘cool’ side of coding. Encouraging young people to go from mere consumers of digital technologies, to starting to understand what is going on under the hood, is a very good way to help them with future careers, be more informed as they navigate the digital economy, help contribute to our IT skills pool and have fun while they’re at it!”

Dr Helen Treharne, Head of Computer Science, University of Surrey
“The Department of Computer Science at the University of Surrey is pleased to be able to host the final of the Open Schools Coding Competition. We are delighted to see school pupils getting involved in coding with such passion and enthusiasm.”

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