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BigAmbition Olympians Back UK Bid to Get More Young People Into IT

19 November 2008

A major event to mark the start of e-skills UK’s BigAmbition campaign was held today at Microsoft’s Head Offices in Reading. Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, sailor Sarah Webb, kicked off the new initiative in the presence of nearly 200, 13 year old girls, while her teammate Sarah Ayton also supports the campaign.

The event, sponsored by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), aimed to highlight the gender imbalance in the number of young people entering IT, and featured senior female technology executives talking about their personal experiences, followed by a series of competitions to design the ‘next big idea in technology’. SEEDA hopes the event will be one of many, to demonstrate how dynamic and exciting IT can be as a career.

Through BigAmbition (www.bigambition.co.uk) e-skills UK seeks to challenge young people to consider a career in technology, one of the country’s fastest growing and most innovative industries.

Today, Sarah Webb inspired attendees by explaining how computer technology helped her and her teammates win their Yngling gold medals in Beijing. "My teammates and I depend on computer technology; not only for behind the scenes help with daily training, but right before important races. Specialised programmes help us model weather conditions. This allowed us to be prepared on the water each day, helping us to win Gold. When I was in school, I never thought this type of specialised computer technology was related to a career in IT, but it is one of many cool and important things that can be done in IT. Sarah and I also benefit from technology in our Be Number 1 campaign which is fronted by a website. The site uses interactive tools to attract support for amateur athletes in their quest to be number one."

Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK added that there is "a disconnect between students loving technology, gadgets and social media, and studying or pursuing a career in IT. What BigAmbition aims to get across to students is that all the technology they love is developed by people with careers in IT and that they could have these careers and make a difference."

SEEDA, which has been instrumental in e-skills UK’s award winning computer clubs CC4G and is a firm supporter of BigAmbition, plays a key role with partners in responding to sector needs, and sponsored today’s launch event.

Director of Business Support and Enterprise at SEEDA, Julie Kapsalis stated:

"The IT sector is a fast-moving sector which has implications for us all, particularly in a changing economic environment. Alongside this, we need to ensure that information and advice is helping young people to make informed decisions on their career choices. It is, therefore, vital that we highlight innovative industries and sectors such as IT and ensure that we develop and inspire our workforce of tomorrow."

BigAmbition has been launched at a time when fewer and fewer young people are choosing to study IT or choose a career in technology while the IT sector is growing rapidly and urgently needs more people to enter the IT professional workforce. SEEDA and many partners including Sony, Oracle, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Orange, LG and Microsoft joined forces at this event, fully recognising the importance of IT in helping raise productivity through the smarter use of technology, knowledge and skills.

BigAmbition aims to re-vamp the face of IT and show 14-19 year olds that there is much more to it than they may think; opening their eyes to the excitement of IT-related careers. The campaign’s interactive website has a wide range of entertaining and informative content including competitions, quizzes, profiles and more, designed to engage and motivate students.

In addition to the endorsement of Olympians Sarah Webb and her teammate Sarah Ayton, BigAmbition is also supported by IT professionals working in companies such as British Airways, BT and MySpace. Profiles of these IT professionals are featured on the website as part of the campaign to help illustrate the diversity of the sector and show how rewarding working in IT can be.

For further information, please contact:

Deborah Bain, Communications, SEEDA
Phone: 01483 484 272.

 

About BigAmbition

BigAmbition is part of the Revitalise IT programme which has set out to transform the attitudes of young people to IT-related education and careers, and support universities in developing and promoting courses that reflect the needs of IT professional careers. Revitalise IT is supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

 

About SEEDA

SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, is the Government funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England - the driving force of the UK's economy. Our aim is to create a prosperous, dynamic and inspirational region by helping businesses compete more effectively, training a highly skilled workforce, supporting and enabling our communities while safeguarding our natural resources and cherishing our rich cultural heritage.

 

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e-Skills UK

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155