Apps for Good in Manchester – is the digital skills gap closer to closing?

Teenage entrepreneurs shone at our competition in Manchester. The North West’s next generation of tech entrepreneurs proved they are ahead of the game with their innovative IoT and app designs.

On Friday 20th April students from across the North West gathered in Manchester to pitch their outstanding tech for good products to a panel of industry professionals. They were in tough competition with one another when pitching in front of the dragons, as well as trying to win votes from the public for the People’s Choice Prize. The event, supported by tech company EPAM, was an exciting celebration of the Apps for Good project which aims to close the national digital skills gap and prepare young people for the future of work. During the course, students learn coding as well as other crucial entrepreneurial and soft skills which are essential for the next generation to thrive in the workplace.

Over the past few months, the teams of young people have been working hard to create apps and tech products which tackle the problems and issues that matter most to them. Problems the students tackled with the designs they showcased at the event included cyber security, mental health, online bullying and fitness.

The winners of the People’s Choice Award were from Brighouse High School with their website and app which educate young people about the the safety of their data online. Following the dragons den session the winners of the Tech prize were a team from Essa Academy with their outstanding prototype ‘iProtect’. The winners of the Innovation prize were also a team from Essa with their creative app ‘Aspire’. The quality of the work was outstanding and it was a tough call for the dragons to make a decision.

EPAM, a global provider of digital platform engineering and product development services, recently became an Apps for Good partner and during the event, their employees shared their expertise and advised the students on their projects. EPAM’s eKids programme, which is currently active in 14 countries including the UK, encourages thousands of young children to explore software engineering and coding through mentoring relationships with their employees and MIT’s Scratch programme. Gordon Mullan, Lead Business Analyst and UK Co-ordinator for Corporate and Social Responsibility, EPAM said “Young people today need to be exposed to different career opportunities available in the tech industry. Tech skills, like coding and software development, set children up for success in the tech space, and also build problem-solving and communication skills needed in every career. We’re proud to partner with Apps for Good and are committed to building the future of the IT industry workforce through social innovation programs like this event in Manchester.”

Following their involvement in the Manchester event students will now have the opportunity to enter their digital products into the Apps for Good national competition. There they will have the unique chance to visit London based tech companies and pitch to panels of industry professionals with the potential to receive mentorship to take their products even further.

Apps for Good UK Managing Director Heather Picov said “the innovative ideas the students showcased were inspirational and made me realise the future is very safe in the hands of these young people. It was great to see so many students from across the North West excited about the potential technology has to make a positive impact on society.”

The next generation of entrepreneurs were an inspiration to everyone in attendance at the event as the quality of the work from these young teenagers was exceptional. Watch this space!


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