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CCEA, Allstate NI and Belfast Met working with teachers to tackle digital skills gap

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40 teachers from across Northern Ireland have come together to take part in a training initiative to develop skills in Digital technologies and focused on teaching how to programme in C#, the high level computer programming language. The training is taking place in advance of the planned Sept 2017 launch of the new GCSE Digital Technology qualification developed by local exams body, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). 

According to recent figures produced by a Commons Science and Technology Committee report, the UK needs another 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017 and the Digital Skills gap costs the UK economy around £63bn a year in lost income.  Working closely with schools, further and higher education organisations, employers and industry stakeholders, CCEA has replaced the A Level ICT qualification with a new GCE A Level in Digital Technology that now includes coding. A new GCSE will also be launched late this year to begin to improve coding skills across all our schools and will give learners the necessary skills and expertise needed in Northern Ireland’s growing Digital economy. 

Yesterday teachers and representatives from CCEA, Allstate NI and Belfast Metropolitan College, attended an event to mark the official launch of this upskilling initiative. 

Peter Weir, Minister for Education, who attended the event, commented: 

“I welcome courses such as this one, which demonstrate how education and industry can work together. I hope to see an increase in the skills and confidence of teachers and in the schools offering digital technology courses, as well as an increase in the number of pupils studying GCSE Digital Technology. 

I am grateful for the support of CCEA, Allstate NI and Belfast Met at the leadership they have shown in developing and delivering this course.” 

Justin Edwards, CCEA’s Chief Executive said: 

“Our suite of Digital Technology qualifications have been developed and consulted upon with key stakeholders including teachers, higher education representatives, students and employers. Following this feedback, alongside the growing discussion on digital skills, teachers indicated a desire to be upskilled, especially in the area of programming. One of our industry partners, Allstate NI, indicated a desire to work on broadening the support for the upskilling of teachers and worked with us to deliver this training initiative.”                                                                                                                   

On speaking about the relevance of this new qualification to the Northern Ireland industry, John Healy, Managing Director Allstate NI said: 

“Allstate Northern Ireland have championed the training of teachers in technology qualifications over the past 4 years.  During this time we have delivered programming language training to over 100 teachers from 60 schools across Northern Ireland.  Following recent discussions with CCEA we have agreed to switch our focus to the new GCSE in Digital Technology. This joint initiative with CCEA, Belfast Metropolitan College and Allstate NI demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to up skill teachers and ensure that they, and their pupils have the relevant training and qualifications for the future”  

Dr Jonathan Heggarty, Director of Curriculum at Belfast Metropolitan College, said: 

“Belfast Met is delighted to be working in collaboration with both CCEA and Allstate in assisting teachers upskill. Belfast Met works closely with our industry partners to ensure that all of our learners develop skills that make them industry ready. Likewise, this important initiative will help ensure that pupils in our schools are developing excellent IT skills, using the latest technologies. We are also delighted our partnership with Microsoft will allow teachers to get access to a wealth of additional materials and tools to support them further.”

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