BBC launches flagship Make it Digital initiative
Major initiative will give a coding device to every child in year 7 across the UK, 1 million devices in total; create up to 5,000 digital trainees; partner with around 50 organisations; and launch a season of dedicated BBC programmes and online activity.
BBC Make it Digital could help digital creativity become as familiar and fundamental as writing, and I’m truly excited by what Britain, and future great Britons, can achieve.
The BBC today launched Make it Digital – a major UK-wide initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
The UK is facing a significant skills shortage with 1.4m digital professionals needed over the next five years. BBC Make it Digital will capture the spirit of the BBC Micro, which helped Britain get to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s, for the digital age. It will put digital creativity in the spotlight like never before, and help build the nation’s digital skills, through an ambitious range of new programmes, partnerships and projects. These include:
- A major partnership to develop and give a ‘Micro Bit’ coding device to all year 7 children across the UK for free to inspire a future generation - 1 million devices in total
- A season of programmes and online activity involving the BBC’s biggest and best-loved brands, including Doctor Who, EastEnders, Radio 1, The One Show, Children in Need, BBC Weather and many more, including a new factual drama about the development of Grand Theft Auto on BBC Two and a documentary on Bletchley Park
- The Make it Digital Traineeship to create life-changing opportunities for up to 5,000 young unemployed people, the largest traineeship of its kind
- Partnerships with around 50 major organisations across the UK, including Apps for Good, ARM, Barclays, British Computing Society, BT, Code Club, DWP, Google, iDEA, Microsoft, Nesta, Samsung, Skills Funding Agency, Tech City UK, the Tech Partnership, TeenTech, Young Rewired State
- A range of formal education activities and events, including Bitesize, Live Lessons and School Report
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “This is exactly what the BBC is all about - bringing the industry together on an unprecedented scale and making a difference to millions. Just as we did with the BBC Micro in the 1980s, we want to inspire the digital visionaries of the future. Only the BBC can bring partners together to attempt something this ambitious, this important to Britain’s future on the world stage.
“BBC Make it Digital could help digital creativity become as familiar and fundamental as writing, and I’m truly excited by what Britain, and future great Britons, can achieve.”
BBC Make it Digital aims to get the nation truly excited about digital creativity. It will inspire audiences young and old through world-class TV, radio and online content, and focus on helping younger audiences discover their creative potential and take their first steps. Make it Digital will also amplify the great work already taking place across the UK through major initiatives with partners, and ensure young people can continue their learning journeys long after 2015.
Notes to Editors
 Digital Sector Skills Assessment, August 2014. Parthenon Analysis.
Pictures from the Make it Digital launch are available to press at BBC Pictures.
The ‘Micro Bit’
Nicknamed the ‘Micro Bit’ as a working title, the BBC has partnered with over 25 organisations to create a small programmable hardware device for every year 7 child (age 11-12) in the UK. Building on the legacy of the BBC Micro, the Micro Bit aims to help transform a new generation from passive consumers of technology to creators and innovators in the digital world.
The Micro Bit helps younger children to start learning basic coding and programming, acting as a springboard for further learning and more advanced products like Arduino, Galileo, Kano and Raspberry Pi. It is still in development and will become available from autumn 2015, with 1 million devices given away freely, including to each child in year 7 across the UK. More information is available here.
A season of BBC programmes and online content
A wide-reaching season of Make it Digital content across TV, radio and online will showcase how Britain has helped shape the digital world, raise awareness among mainstream audiences on why digital matters, and inspire younger audiences to have a go and get creative with digital technologies.
The season will harness the power of its best-loved brands to bring coding and digital technology to life for everyone, with a focus on younger audiences to inspire them to get involved and build their digital skills. Content will begin to appear from today, building up to a big audience moment in September. More information is available here, with highlights including:
- Major brands like Doctor Who, Radio 1, EastEnders, The One Show and BBC Children in Need, encouraging their fans to get creative with digital
- A new factual drama about the development of Grand Theft Auto on BBC Two, and a BBC Three talent show, Girls Can Code
- The 2015 Dimbleby Lecture from Baroness Martha Lane-Fox on BBC One; Gordon Welchman - The Forgotten Genius Of Bletchley Park on BBC Two; and documentaries on the pioneering mathematician Ada Lovelace, and the wonder or algorithms on BBC Four
- A raft of programming for Radio 4 that celebrates both the history of coding, computing and digital, and looks to the future
- A series of BBC iWonder guides, including Ian Livingstone on the story of the British games industry, Lauren Laverne and Piers Linney on coding, and many more to come
Make it Digital Traineeship
The BBC Make it Digital Traineeship will help up to 5,000 young unemployed people boost their digital skills and get a foot on the jobs ladder. Run out of BBC Birmingham, it will be the largest traineeship of its kind due to a major partnership between the BBC, Department for Work and Pensions and Skills Funding Agency, supported by a range of other organisations.
Due to launch around the country in summer 2015, the nine-week traineeship includes training from the world-renowned BBC Academy. It will teach basic digital skills, such as creating simple websites and short videos for the web; involve major BBC brands such as Radio 1; and get young people ready for work with employability skills and a work placement.
Radio 1 will play a major role with a week-long challenge, and offer top-performing trainees a fast-tracked final-stage interview for the Radio 1 Apprenticeship. And in London, a Traineeship will be aimed specifically at young BAME talent. More information is available here.
Partnerships are the lifeblood of Make it Digital, and the BBC will work with organisations across the UK to amplify the vibrant digital industry. The new Make it Digital Hub will showcase the range of activity taking place across the UK, feature stories from across the BBC and the wider industry. The BBC is working with the Tech Partnership, Google and Nesta to create a digital resource finder, which will be available in the autumn, to engage and inspire anyone keen to learn more, enabling teachers, parents and young people to discover the resources best suited to them.
The BBC is working with over 50 organisations in a first wave of partnerships - from major corporations like ARM, Barclays, BT, Google, Microsoft, Samsung to educational institutions and organisations, right across the industry, such as Apps for Good, British Computing Society, Code Club, ComputerScience4Fun, FutureLearn, iDEA, Nesta, TeenTech, Tech City UK, the Tech Partnership and Young Rewired State. These partnerships will also develop new initiatives like the ground-breaking Micro Bit and Make it Digital Traineeship, as well as a wide range of other activities. More information on how the BBC and partners are working together, and the range of activities the partnerships cover, is available here.
The BBC will provide a range of formal learning activities and resources as part of Make it Digital, designed to help teachers and children in classrooms. These include flagship BBC brands such as Bitesize, School Report and BBC Learning Live Lessons. There will also be range of events to inspire people and allow them to explore their digital potential. The BBC will be celebrating British Science Week at The Big Bang Fair and a Make it Digital Roadshow will tour the country in the summer. More information is available here.
Jessica Cecil, Controller of BBC Make it Digital, said: "BBC Make it Digital is hugely exciting and will shine a light on digital creativity like never before. There’s a real opportunity in the UK to help fill 1.4m digital jobs in the next five years. But we won’t do this alone – we are proud to partner with an amazing range of fantastic organisations across the UK, which will open the doors to new opportunities in the future. With a dedicated season of programming on the BBC, 5,000 digital trainees, 1 million children who take their first steps with a Micro Bit, and a host of educational activity, we hope to inspire a new generation to get creative with digital.”