Submitted by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
Teachers, event facilitators and guests smiled broadly when they heard a student say, “I want to do this forever, for many, many years into my future – like for my actual career!”
Molly, a junior public school student within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in grade five made the claim excitedly in a 25th-floor conference room crowded with about 60 students from grades four to 10. The moment came as the 2023 TDSB Go Innovate Together (goIT) program culmination was drawing to a close on June 7, 2023, at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Pace Port™ innovation center in downtown Toronto.
goIT is TCS’ flagship digital innovation and career readiness program for young people. It leverages the expertise of TCS employees who volunteer to judge competitions and more, and that of teachers and community partners, who help the students connect the activities with the needs of their communities, both local and global.
“It’s just this kind of enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that goIT seeks to build,” said Adrienne Britten, goIT Liaison at TCS Canada. “We created the program’s curricula, experiences and opportunities with the TDSB specifically to empower teachers so they can introduce youth to digital innovation as a means to eventually closing the skills gap and drawing them into careers of the future.”
Molly’s excitement and confidence is proof that the program is working.
The skills gap refers to the difference between the number of available and projected future jobs in science and technology and the number of young people — especially girls — being appropriately encouraged and prepared to take them. It’s a particular concern in Canada where a 2022 study by the C.D. Howe Institute revealed a severe shortage in employees with digital and STEM skills against the rising demand for digital-oriented jobs. Researchers highlighted, among many other things, education-based solutions including:
TCS and TDSB have been using goIT to approach these solutions together strategically for almost a decade.
According to Peter Singh, Executive Officer, and IT Services and Chief Technology Officer for TDSB, administrators saw the ways goIT benefited both students and teachers and embraced the program wholeheartedly. After two successful years sharing goIT with students, they decided to raise the bar on collaboration. Rather than just bring plug-and-play tools into the classroom for two days each year, they synchronized the program with District learning outcomes and made goIT a year-round offering with full and constant support. To spearhead success, the TDSB developed a team of Digital Lead Learners, more than 300 teachers who focus on helping build teacher capacity for STEM learning and embedding deep learning about technology into the district’s program. TCS supported the initiative by hiring a TDSB teacher to manage collaboration on the business side. Singh applauds the decision, describing how TCS’ deep understanding of pedagogy has boosted the program and its results.
“It takes years to build a strong practice and we did it; we have a program that is really thriving,” said Singh. “The kids love goIT and come back year after year,” he added, noting how he has enjoyed watching returning students’ development in digital literacy and as thinkers and presenters.
At the end of every goIT program, students compete with peers in their age group, sharing their concepts for digital innovations with volunteer TCS judges. TCS employee-judges look for ingenuity, creative and innovative design, and empathy. Establishing a strong link between digital innovation and global citizenship, goIT competitions require all young innovators to address one of the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and to design their app concepts in a way that promises to make the world a better place. For most students, it is their first experience with corporate social responsibility (CSR).
“Judging goIT culmination events and using the time to mentor students in their projects has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me,” said TCS associate Himanshu Rao, Technical Lead for BFSI Canada and a regular goIT volunteer. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy the students’ creativity, as well as guide and support these young minds as they explore scientific concepts, develop hypotheses, conduct experiments, and analyze data. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, both big and small.”
The TDSB goIT culmination brought a total of 60 students between grades 4 - 10 to TCS Pace Port™ Toronto for a full day of digital exploration. Supported by eight teachers, a few parents and eight TCS volunteers, they were separated into two groups comprised of 32 senior students aged 13 to 18 and all of the juniors under the age of 12. The groups took turns presenting their concepts for digital innovations to judges. When not presenting, they gazed out at their spectacular 25th-floor view of the city, marveled at their new perspective on what it might be like to work in an office and meet in conference rooms, and took part in workshops about machine learning and AI. They even had the opportunity to teach visual and audio recognition skills to a computer.
“The students are so proud and gain so much confidence from these experiences,” said Singh. “But the rest of us get a lot out of it, too; participating in goIT brings me back to our purpose in education and the reason I come to work every day,” said Singh.
Learn more about goIT at https://tcsempowers.tcsapps.com/amer/goIT.
Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that has been partnering with many of the world’s largest businesses in their transformation journeys for over 55 years. Its consulting-led, cognitive powered, portfolio of business, technology and engineering services and solutions is delivered through its unique Location Independent Agile™ delivery model, recognized as a benchmark of excellence in software development.
A part of the Tata group, India's largest multinational business group, TCS has over 614,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants in 55 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of US $27.9 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023, and is listed on the BSE and the NSE in India. TCS' proactive stance on climate change and award-winning work with communities across the world have earned it a place in leading sustainability indices such as the MSCI Global Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good Emerging Index. For more information, visit www.tcs.com.
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