Alliance Manchester Business School’s award-winning student collective project, IT Counts, has received funding from a leading software company and an IT employer partnership to boost its programme aimed at inspiring 11-18 year olds to become engaged with IT at school and beyond.
Founded in 2014 by Dr Ali Owrak and his BSc Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) students at Alliance Manchester Business School, IT Counts is a social enterprise which focuses on driving positive change in how IT is taught and conveyed in secondary education. Its ultimate aim is to motivate and inspire students to consider careers in technology.
Following IT Counts’ initial success in its first two years of summer schools, award-winning software company, CA Technologies, has become a partner for the programme, providing important funding to sustain the IT Counts summer school and provide important materials for the students.
The Tech Partnership, a network of employers creating skills for the UK’s digital economy, is also involved in the programme and has provided funding for the summer school.
The summer schools have proven to be a success with secondary school students, where students get to experience a ‘day in the life’ of the ITMB course at the Business School. The day consists of interactive classes led by university students, alongside talks from IT employers, removing the negative misconceptions of a career in IT and shedding a positive and exciting light on the industry.
Lauren Haynes-Ranger, student on Alliance MBS’ ITMB course and one of the programme leaders for IT Counts said: “IT Counts is a truly enriching experience – both for myself and the schools involved. Through building strong relationships, we can connect with students and present them with a fun and exciting view of technology, which schools often struggle to present.
“From a common goal reached between students on the ITMB course, we have been able to enrich the lives of students regardless of their social costs and background and open their eyes to opportunities they previously would have never considered.”
IT Counts is not only proving useful for students. Through the programme, Alliance MBS students noted that the way in which IT is taught in secondary schools could be the root cause of a common disinterest in students. IT Counts is now researching ways in which it can support IT teachers in secondary schools to ensure the work the students and teachers are doing is sustainable and effective.
Ali Owrak, ITMB Programme Director, said: “Alongside our summer schools for secondary students, we are now bringing our vision to life by researching and developing an education programme to enable teachers to deliver engaging IT lessons that accurately reflect the role and value of technology in society today.
“IT Counts is working to establish a network between IT teachers, students and technology businesses to stimulate collaboration, share advice and best practice. The programme really is proving to be a winning recipe for secondary school students, university students, the ITMB course itself, and the wider IT industry.”
Sarah Atkinson, VP, EMEA Communications at CA Technologies said, “As a result of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills gap in Europe, the European Commission estimates that there could be up to 825,000 unfilled vacancies for ICT* professionals by 2020. By supporting programmes like IT Counts with our Create Tomorrow campaign, we hope to help close a skills gap which could have a very real impact not just on our industry but on society as a whole – as software underpins everything from banking to healthcare to our national security.”
IT Counts is now being extended beyond the Manchester community, with franchises of the programme popping up at UK-wide universities.