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Wired Magazine: O2 Thinks Big with Young Enterprise kids

O2 has launched an initiative — Think Big Schools — to teach digital skills 3,000 young people across the UK in what they describe as “scout camp for the 21st century”.

Think Big Schools is a series of 28 events — run in partnership with Young Enterprise — that will teach young people aged 14-18 real skills that bring digital technology to life in order to equip them for the future. The aim is to allow young people to become active creators of the digital economy rather than passive consumers.

O2 launched its Think Big initiative in 2008. Initially the programme focused on funding young people to make a difference in their community through social enterprise. However, in the wake of the global financial crisis, O2 has shifted its approach. “Young people actually needed work skills,” explained Bill Eyres, head of O2’s Think Big initiative.

“Young people are digital natives in terms of consuming digital but not in terms of producing digital platforms. Few of them understand what goes on behind the web or applications. But it is critical to the economy that young people do have that knowledge,” Eyres added.

The programme is focusing on 14-16 year-olds keen to learn new digital skills. Two thousand of them will attend two-day Think Big School sessions. On the first day they will be tutored by Young Enterprise and a senior person from O2 to help develop an idea for a new business. The aim is to focus on identifying a potential business idea. The second day involves attendees learning about the history of the web and find out about how to make a web platform for their business idea using basic coding. These ideas are then pitched in front of a live audience of judges.

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