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8 October, 2019 - 23:11 By Kate Sweeney

Child’s play as Amazon leads fight to avert tech Armageddon

Amazon Gurr

Amazon, which is recruiting massively in Cambridge, is leading a campaign to cultivate thousands more computer science specialists in the next 10 years to stop the UK economy haemorrhaging as much as £33 billion.

One of Cambridge’s A List of tech titans, Amazon has launched a ‘Future Engineer’ initiative to help tech-hungry UK cash in on an unprecedented growth opportunity.

In a ‘cradle to the crown’ programme, it is pledged to help children and young adults from low income backgrounds to build careers in computer science and related engineering roles.

The programme includes support for over 200 careers specialists and 50 computer science teachers, free robotics workshops for 10,000 primary school children and a free online coding lesson.

The initiative is timely as new research by Capital Economics reveals that the UK needs an additional 38,000 workers with computer science-related skills, including 21,000 computer science graduates, to meet labour demands every year – or the economy could lose out on an estimated £33 billion a year by 2030.

Amazon Future Engineer aspires to reach more than one million children and young people across the UK over the next two years. 

Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said: “Research shows the UK needs 21,000 more computer science graduates on average, every year, to meet the demands of the digital economy. 

Gurr added: “By making computer science skills more widely accessible from childhood to career, we hope Amazon Future Engineer will inspire and empower young people, regardless of their background, to take up careers in computer science.”

Engaging primary school pupils in robotics and coding
Through Amazon Future Engineer, ten thousand primary school pupils will have the opportunity to take part in free robotics workshops at Amazon fulfilment centres across the UK over the next two years, learning to program robots which use similar technology to what is used by Amazon to fulfil customer orders. 

The workshops, created alongside Fire Tech, are designed to give children first-hand experience of how technology works in the real world and have been accredited by the British Science Association. Amazon will also embark on a road trip across the UK, bringing the robotics workshops to primary schools around the country.

Amazon has also helped create an interactive dance-themed online coding tutorial together with non-profit organisation Code.org, featuring songs from leading artists, with the aim of reaching a million children in the UK. 

Globally, tens of millions of children and young people have already participated in Hour of Code tutorials since 2013. One hour of learning through Hour of Code is proven to have a positive impact on students, with a significant increase in the number of students saying they like computer science and perform better in computer science tasks.

Helping recruit and train computer science teachers
Amazon is working with the education charity Teach First to support the recruitment and training of 50 secondary school computer science teachers. They will also support with the training of over 200 Teach First ‘Careers Leaders’, a programme run by the charity which supports leaders in schools to develop a long-term school-wide careers strategy to improve students’ opportunities.

The computer science teachers will be placed in schools serving low-income communities from next year and will have the opportunity to embark on paid work experience at Amazon. Careers leaders and computer science students will also have the chance to visit Amazon on work insight days. 

Teach First’s approach of training teachers and placing them in schools in low-income areas is proven to boost the GCSE performance of pupils. After two years of running Amazon Future Engineer in the UK, this investment in teachers is expected to benefit 50,000 secondary school students.

Enabling Tech Careers through Bursaries and Apprenticeships
For students wishing to pursue computer sciences in higher education, Amazon is funding 120 apprenticeships in software development engineering, automation and advanced mechatronics, enabling a diverse range of applicants to enter the computer science field. 

Participants will benefit from on-the-job work experience and classroom-based learning. Amazon is also funding 20 bursaries for students studying computer science at UK universities, enabling students from low-income backgrounds to pursue technology careers.You can find out more at www.amazonfutureengineer.co.uk

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