The Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) was launched last week by the Gibraltar Government’s Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes, at an event held at Start Up Grind’s fireside chat at the World Trade Centre.
In his announcement, Minister Cortes reiterated the Government’s commitment to supporting the digital industries through education, adding an announcement that from the next academic year, and subject to final accreditation approval, the new comprehensive school will be offering a vocational course in digital technology as a City and Guilds qualification. Minister Cortes emphasised the importance of education in supporting the digital industries saying: “Too often educaton lags behind society and there is a time lag between the industry’s requirements and what education provides…education must lead, it must be predictive, it must set up the foundations for growing industries…initiatives such as this [iDEA] take us a long way down that journey.” He added that given the way that Gibraltar’s young people have been instrumental in Gibraltar’s successes, and that iDEA mirrors the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in many ways, that he looks forward to more success with these new awards. He also noted the importance of public and private sector engagement and collaboration, and thanked those private sector companies that very quickly responded positively to support iDEA in Gibraltar.
As well as looking to address the skills gap, this international programme aims to unlock new educational and career opportunities in digital technologies. iDEA works in a way similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in that participants engage in a series of online challenges and events and gradually gain certificates and industry-recognised awards to confirm the skills learned. There are also Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards to work towards. iDEA’s is a blended learning approach, with the overarching goal being to support the development and accreditation of digital skills, which then allow individuals to take better advantage of opportunities to become economically active. Participants will be exposed to a very broad range of skills including coding, animation, e-safety, GDPR among many others, and there is a focus on engagement and fun, with challenges split into various categories such as ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘gamer’ with badges won as rewards for successful completion of various stages.
The programme is available to all Gibraltar’s students aged 12 – 18 outside of school hours, and led by Bayside School’s Head of Physics and Cybercenturion leader, Stuart Harrison, who also presented more detailed information on the programme. “The idea of the Award,” said Mr Harrison, “is to encourage independent learning, to encourage children to grow and to find the skills they love and the skills they did not actually know they had.” He explained how the private sector is involved in engaging with the award and what they will be doing to support the learners through offering their expertise to help the participants. He looked forward to Gibraltar’s young people taking part fully in the world’s digital economy through their ability to acquire the right skills and learn how to keep those skills fresh and updated.