Pupils from across Northern Ireland showed off their digital prowess at Belfast City Hall after taking part in the Digital Futures Programme, an event aimed at uncovering the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in Northern Ireland. 

Year 9, 10, 11 & 12 pupils from a number of local schools were tasked with exploring an issue faced by businesses or consumers and to consider and develop a technological solution, competing against dozens of schools from across Northern Ireland in front of an expert judging panel. The schools attending the event included:

  • Royal Belfast Academical Institution
  • Sperrin Integrated College, Magherafelt
  • St Patrick’s High School, Keady
  • Dominican College, Portstewart
  • Our Lady’s Grammar School, Newry
  • St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley
  • Cookstown High School
  • St Ronan’s College, Lurgan
  • St Colman’s High School, Ballynahinch

The judging panel, which included digital experts from companies like Google, Microsoft, Fujitsu and MCS Group, was impressed with all efforts on show and commended the local students’ abilities to embrace digital technology for problem solving.

The Digital Futures Programme is part of Digital DNA 2015 – a series of events that promotes the benefits of technology to businesses in Northern Ireland with the aim of helping them grow locally and internationally.

Digital Futures is operated in partnership with Sentinus, an educational charity promoting engagement in STEM and Young Enterprise, a charity developing the entrepreneurial skills and aspirations of young people aged 4 to 25.

Speaking at the Digital Futures event, Digital DNA Founder Gareth Quinn said: “The pupils from SCHOOL came up with some fantastic digital ideas at the event and I’ve no doubt that Northern Ireland is home to some of our future business leaders and entrepreneurs. That’s what Digital Futures is all about – nurturing the next generation of leaders in STEM careers. It’s been a fantastic event and I’d like to say thank you to the staff and pupils from all of the schools for getting involved.”

Louise Smyth, Commercial Director of Northern Irelands leading IT recruitment Specialists MCS Group and key sponsor, said:

“Inspiring the next generation of IT talent and encouraging them to pursue the exciting new and developing opportunities available to them is vital to securing a strong digital future for Northern Ireland. The Digital Futures competition has really exceeded our expectations in helping to deliver this vision by demonstrating in a fun but challenging way just what can be achieved by our young people. We have an incredible pipeline of talent coming through who can be confident that they have the skills to stand out from the crowd with great ideas and the knowledge and passion to make them a success.

“At MCS Group, we believe that our young people can be the creators of technology – not just consumers – and our talented participants and winners have clearly shown that they have the confidence and competence to get ahead quickly in this fast-moving sector. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Sentinus Director Bill Connor added: “The tasks we’re setting will open up the power of digital media to a whole new generation of business leaders. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to experience all aspects of digital and work directly with industry leaders. “

With sponsors including Aer Lingus, MCS Recruitment, IEDR and TotalMobile, the programme engaged pupils between the ages of 12 and 17 years and involved up to 1,200 pupils from secondary schools across Northern Ireland.

For further information about the full Digital DNA programme log on to www.digitaldna.org.uk or @DigitalDNAHQ

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