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Birkbeck joins Coalition of Business and Civil Society Groups to Champion Digital Skills

Peter Estlin, the Lord Mayor of London, will launch a new initiative today that motivates the public to improve their digital skills so that the UK continues to thrive in the digital age.

future.now is a new initiative launched by the Lord Mayor of London to motivate the UK to build their digital skills.

Birkbeck is supporting the Lord Mayor of London’s initiative future.now, which is launched today. Led by a coalition of companies and organisations, it is a call to action for the whole of society to improve their digital skills to prevent isolation, exclusion and unemployment. The coalition brings together businesses, charities, government and education to empower the UK to thrive in the digital age by unleashing the energy, skills and knowledge of the millions of people identified as not digitally literate.

The UK is a world leader in digital, yet the speed of change means people are being left behind. 17.3 million people in the UK do not have the essential digital skills required for work or engagement with modern living, while 4.1 million adults in the UK are still ‘offline’, with 75% indicating that ‘nothing’ could motivate them to change.

Future.now aims to address this motivation gap and inspire people to engage with digital education. Members of the coalition will help people identify the skills they need and signpost where they can get them.

Diane Houston, Pro-Vice Master for Education at Birkbeck, who is representing the College at today’s launch, said: “Birkbeck’s model of evening tuition is ideal for supporting people to upskill for new careers because it allows students to work whilst they study. We offer a huge range of short, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in computer science, information technology and web design, which equip students with a range of digital skills to help them to succeed in a competitive job market.”

Courtney Langmeyer, who initially studied Geography, Urban Planning and Urban Studies in Pennsylvania, joined Birkbeck’s MSc Computer Science in 2017 to pursue a career in software. Her graduation thesis involved her combining her expertise in creating maps of the urban environment with the coding and software engineering concepts she learnt at Birkbeck to develop an app that addresses the problem of finding 'safe' urban paths at night.

Courtney said: “My experience at Birkbeck will forever impact the future of my career in technology. The MSc Computer Science was admittedly very challenging for me, especially coming from a Liberal Arts background, but it was probably one of my most formative experiences. I constantly apply the knowledge I’ve learnt during my time at Birkbeck as it’s offered me a solid fundamental understanding of the ever-growing technology industry.”

Catherine Griffiths from Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics, who will also be attending today’s launch, said: “Birkbeck and future.now have the same aim of widening inclusivity and making access to digital knowledge and education at any age or from any background possible.”

Birkbeck has joined the future.now coalition alongside leaders in business and education such as Barclays, Microsoft and the Institute of Coding. The College looks forward to opportunities for collaboration to prepare the UK for the challenges of the future.

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