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Digital Futures: Engage – what’s it all about?

By 12th May 2016 No Comments

We want to inspire, open doors, create thoughts and improve futures

Thinking back to those teenage days; what to do with our lives; what A-levels we’d do, what ‘job’ we might strive for, what road we might travel; we all remember a time when a conversation, an experience or an event stuck in our minds and influenced future decisions.

I recollect the time my mum told me there would be no future in fashion retail and my dad telling me to ‘go into computers’. This was well intentioned advice from loving parents, but did those snippet conversations help prepare me for my future or did they put me on a different path away from something I was extremely passionate about, had interest in and the skills to have made it a success? With that wonderful thing, ‘hindsight’ and experience from the path I am now on, I think yes…if it had been a social enterprise of course!

So, what is Digital Futures: Engage all about and why is it relevant?

The main purpose of our Engage events is to give young people a chance to have those snippet conversations and to explore – what’s going on in their city and the world that’s relevant to them, what could spark a new idea and potentially a new direction for their future, what’s happening in industry that will influence young people’s futures in a big way, what contribution they could make now, not just in the future. Digital will play a major part in young people’s futures so we have a responsibility to make sure they know about it, are curious about it and want to help shape it.

Digital Futures: Engage provides space to explore, enable, empower and guide without it feeling like we’re on a tight schedule. We also provide connections …the likes of RIO’s very own truly inspirational Jonathan who’s passion is for young people’s ideas and a better future, Jules who is totally amazing at unpicking a problem and unearthing brilliant ideas; Simon and Jack from i-DAT, Plymouth University’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technology who bring fancy kit to be played with, pulled apart and turned into something different (with a real ‘wow’ and ‘could we really do that’ factor). There’s also Blue Screen IT who bring their own hackers, set up a business network in about 30 seconds and show young people not only how vulnerable businesses can be to cyber attacks but also how to protect against the bad guys – it’s like cowboys and Indians in cyber-sphere; and the incredible planning team at Plymouth City Council who have access to oodles of data, knowledge and expertise but also the big picture challenges that, together, help make ideas a reality.

We welcomed over 40 young people to the recent Digital Futures: Engage at Plymouth School of Creative Arts on 22nd April. The participants discussed real problems and things that mattered to them including the need for a creative/tech space in Plymouth run by people for the people, tacking climate change, fighting the bad hackers and making our businesses safer.

One student says, “It’s amazing, I’ve learnt a lot about tech” and another student claims, “It’s intriguing, not what I expected!”

Debbie Collins from All Saints Academy in Plymouth says, “It’s been fantastic watching our students and other students working together; I’m hoping that you’ve seen from the different pods and the different way of coding and digital technology how this can help you now and in the future.”

The truth is we want young people to engage in a way that is immersive and meaningful and our Digital Futures: Engage days do just that. We get people in a room that care about the future and more importantly about the young people who will be a part of it. They want to inspire, empower and enable.

Special thanks to Plymouth City Council for funding our initial event programme, iDAT and Blue Screen IT for their remarkable contribution and to the schools and young people that took the time to come along and give us the opportunity to have those snippet conversations and create the possibilities of the future. We hope they help your journey.

Find out more and attend our next free Digital Futures:Engage event taking place on 1st July at Devonport Guildhall here.

Written by RIO Consulant Claire Honey

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