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For the second year running, the award-winning TCS Digital Explorers program is engaging with thousands of UK teenagers to deliver a virtual work experience, with inputs from more leading tech industry professionals than ever before.

This summer’s digital-only scheme targets years 10 and 12 students (aged 15-18) – young people who have missed out on so much during the pandemic, at key stages in their education, including on the chance to gain actual experience in the workplace.

In collaboration with our partner organisation MyKindaFuture, we worked with more than 40 industry experts, including our own TCS volunteers, to provide a week of interactive live discussions, mentoring, talks and Q&As via Zoom, offering insights and inspiration to the potential tech talent of tomorrow. Read more about the event and partner reflections here.

As in previous years, TCS Digital Explorers 2021 has challenged students to create an app to tackle real societal issues. This time, the focus was on digital literacy, gender equality, poverty and sustainable living. 

The scheme’s downloadable resource pack includes industry standard tools and tutorials to help students hone their best ideas. There are guided modules on design thinking, short video courses on branding, user experience, user interface, storytelling, prototyping and wireframing, plus a whole library of multi-media content to support the app challenge. 

Digital resources and recordings of the live webinars will be available for the rest of the year, including extra content from our TCS goIT program, that links student tech solutions to UN Sustainability Goals. Teenagers can complete the 2021 challenge in their own time and submit their design solutions by December 21, to receive a CV-enhancing certificate of achievement.

While there were over 650 student engagements during live week (June 28 – July 1), it is estimated that the scheme will reach more than 13,000 young people across the UK over the next six months. 

Winner of a Global Good Award for education, TCS Digital Explorers is a flagship programme of our wider outreach work to inspire young people to choose future digital careers. Since it launched in 2017, the scheme has reached tens of thousands of secondary school students - face to face in cities across the UK and online, while COVID restrictions continue.

With its focus on sharing knowledge to encourage innovative and inclusive futures, Digital Explorers sits squarely with the TCS brand ambition, Building on Belief.  At a time when the UK is facing an estimated shortfall of 200,000 STEM-skilled workers, it remains as relevant as ever.

We built on last year’s virtual offering, with interactive webinars exploring the surprising number of career paths into tech, the breadth of roles available and what that world of work could look like for the next generation of tech professionals.

Expert panellists challenged some industry stereotypes and gave in-depth insights into their own specialist areas - from cloud security and automation to full fibre broadband - through a new series of ‘spotlight’ talks.

Students joining the live sessions independently at home or from their schools kept the questions coming: ‘Do you need a PhD in Physics to do a job in tech?’ ‘How much Python [coding] should a 16-year-old know?’ ‘What’s data governance?’ ‘What salary would an IT apprentice start on?’ ‘How has the pandemic affected technology?’

Others simply wanted to know: ‘How do I choose a career and what skills do I need?’ Get a grounding in STEM subjects but keep your options open and never stop learning, was the consensus. And with IT skills already on 82% of jobs specs, the tech sector of the future will be a broader church than ever.

Work experience without the workplace was no small challenge, but an important continued commitment from TCS, believed director of Corporate Sustainability UK & Ireland Yogesh Chauhan.

‘Who would have thought that a work experience programme could be run virtually. Well, we just did by building on our belief that every young person deserves a bright future despite the impact of COVID,’ Yogesh said. ‘Our Digital Explorers was bigger and better than ever, and this was largely thanks to the amazing contribution by so many of our clients’ employees and TCS’s own associates who generously gave of their time to inspire young people into digital technology and future careers.’