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15 technology students aged 16 and 17 from barking dagenham college working with cloud provider amazon web services aws to create digital apps for children affected by homelessness

Pioneering digital project gives students a taste of industry and charity

20th March 2017

Career College students from Barking & Dagenham College are working with cloud provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create digital apps for children affected by homelessness.

Students from three Career Colleges are being given the opportunity to work on a live digital project – giving them hands on industry experience, while supporting a homelessness charity.

The pioneering project is being run with The Roberts Centre - a charity which provides support for homeless children and their families – together with AWS, the cloud computing part of Amazon.

45 technology students aged 16 and 17 from Barking & Dagenham College, BMet and Harrow College have been tasked with developing digital applications to support the launch of three new books produced by The Robert Centre.

The books, aimed at children between the ages of four and eight, will help to explain homelessness, debt and family break-up in a way that children can understand and relate to these issues.

The three colleges are all part of the national Career Colleges network, which focuses on providing employer-led curriculums for young people, preparing them for fulfilling careers in specific industries.

The Career Colleges Trust unveiled the project brief to the students, at AWS’ offices in London last week. During the three-hour session, students had the opportunity to hear from Amazon employees and learn more about some of the latest cloud technologies available to build their applications.

The project will be managed and run in exactly the same way as a commercial new business brief. Students will have two update calls with the Project Board, focusing on design, finance, and the project plan. Both the Career Colleges Trust and AWS will sit on the project board.

Digital Lead for the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski, says:

“This is part of an ongoing plan with AWS to increase young people’s awareness of the digital industry and the roles available. It will assist with the national skills gap in technology. Taking part in a live project with one of the world’s biggest digital companies is an amazing opportunity for our Career College students. This project is about linking education, business and community – benefiting the children and families helped by The Roberts Centre. Not only will our students get a chance to use the digital skills they have been acquiring during their courses, but they getting first-hand experience of how a multinational company works. They are also getting insight to the huge number of career opportunities available within the growing digital sector. Today’s briefing session gave the students a chance to find out more about AWS and they have been inspired by talking to some of the company’s employees. The students have all performed so professionally we are looking forward to seeing how their designs develop and the finished projects.”

Alongside gaining technical and vocational qualifications, the Career Colleges Trust focuses on helping young people to achieve a career rather than only facilitating the skills for their first job. The Trust make certain students develop a range of employability skills including business and digital etiquette, critical thinking, the ability to communicate effectively and adaptability.

Chris Hayman, Head of UK & IR, AWS Public Sector says:

“We are excited to be part of this project and to help inspire the next generation of digital technology experts. Through our work with the Career Colleges Trust, we have the opportunity to introduce more young people to the latest and most innovative cloud technologies. These technologies are critical for today’s workforce, and we look forward to seeing how the students plan to put these new skills into action. The students have a wealth of new innovative ideas which we cannot wait to see come to life.”

CEO Carole Damper MBE of The Roberts Centre says:

“This project demonstrates that everyone can benefit when you bring people and organisations together. In this case Career College students, a global business and a charity from Portsmouth that supports homeless families and families in need. We are really excited to see the students take the books that we have already developed around debt, homeless and family breakdown - and enhance them by using the power of digital, enabling children to have a way of communicating with the support around them. We are sure that the students will turn their obvious enthusiasm into creating ideas that will be of huge benefit to the children and families we help. We hope it will inspire the students to see how technology can help people, not just in Portsmouth, but in their own local communities. We are really excited to see the results of their hard work."

Working to a ‘budget’ of £60k, students will have to cost the whole project out, breaking it down into labour costs, expenses, materials, etc. The project will run over an eight-week period, and students will be working in groups.

In early May, students will present their project plans and ideas to ‘the Board’, which will include representatives from The Roberts Centre, Career Colleges Trust and AWS.

The presentations will showcase the digital solutions they have developed as well as explanations of the final budget, research and testing, and learnings that students have made throughout the project. The three winning projects will be awarded prizes.

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