The UK is facing a significant skills shortage, with 1.4 million "digital professionals" estimated to be needed over the next five years. To meet this need the BBC has partnered with over 25 organizations in an initiative it calls “Make it Digital”, the centerpiece of which is a small programmable hardware device called Micro Bit; one million Micro Bits will be given without charge to all pupils starting secondary school (age 11-12) in the UK starting in the autumn term. In format the Micro Bit will be a standalone, wearable device with an LED display and a Bluetooth Smart wireless chip (from Nordic Semiconductor). Children will be able to program Micro Bit in a number of ways using entry-level coding by simply plugging into a computer.
The Micro Bit is designed to help youngsters start learning basic coding and programming, acting as a springboard for further learning and more advanced products like Arduino, Galileo, Kano and Raspberry Pi.
The first wave of partnerships in the Micro Bit program includes major corporations like ARM, Barclays, BT, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung as well as educational institutions and organizations across the industry, such as Apps for Good, British Computing Society, Code Club, ComputerScience4Fun, FutureLearn, iDEA, Nesta, TeenTech, Tech City UK, Tech Partnership and Young Rewired State.
In related news BBC’s “Make it Digital” also will include a traineeship to help up to 5,000 young unemployed people boost their digital skills and get a foot on the jobs ladder. Due to launch around the country this summer, the nine-week traineeship includes training from the BBC Academy. It will teach basic digital skills, such as creating simple websites and short videos for the web; involves major BBC brands such as Radio 1; and gets young people ready for work with employability skills and work placement.