About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Young digital makers

This report surveys the opportunities and identifies gaps and next steps for young people to create with technology across the UK.

This report surveys the opportunities and identifies gaps and next steps for young people to create with technology across the UK.

Key Findings

  • 82 per cent of young people say they are interested in digital making. However, half of young people make things with digital technology less than once a week or never.
  • Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of digital making. 89 per cent think it is a worthwhile activity for their children. 73 per cent encourage their children to make things with technology.
  • We identified 130,800 opportunities to experience digital making provided by the organisations surveyed. This is a long way from providing for the interest shown by 82 per cent of our survey, which represents a possible 8.2 million school age children and young people in the UK.
  • Digital making is powered not just by money, but also by volunteers. Two thirds of the organisations identified said they relied on volunteers to do their work.
  • Only half of teachers who teach ICT or computing report being confident in teaching the curriculum.

This report explores the emerging field of digital making for young people in the UK. It charts the organisations providing opportunities for young people to make things with technology; looks at how these opportunities relate to what young people learn in school; and explores the attitudes of young people, parents and teachers towards digital making.

For most young people digital technology is an everyday part of life. Many are avid consumers of digital media. However they often don’t understand how to manipulate the underlying technology, let alone how to create it for themselves.

As technology shapes our world, young people need to be able to shape it too. As skills and work become increasingly technologically mediated, the need for digital skills is paramount with some calculating a potential £2 billion loss to the UK economy from unfilled roles requiring such skills.

After several years working with organisations supporting digital making, and with creating with technology set to go mainstream through a forthcoming BBC campaign, this report takes stock of what is happening. Using this information we have identified seven key recommendations that need to be put into action to allow all young people the opportunity to become digital makers.

Key Recommendations

  • The high levels of interest in digital making amongst young people and parents need to be capitalised on further.
  • Young people need to be supported as digital makers across the UK, not just in London and areas that have high provision.
  • Non-professionals – such as volunteers, parents, teachers, and young people themselves – need to be mobilised.
  • There needs to be greater access to a variety of making opportunities catering for a wider variety of young people and their different interests, ages and genders.
  • Clear pathways to excellence should be built to grow young people’s ambitions as digital makers and help them fulfill their potential, in and out of school.
  • Schools must exploit their potential as a hub for digital making opportunities, work with informal learning organisations, raise parents’ awareness and recruit volunteers.
  • Digital making organisations need to be supported to grow sustainably through new and existing partnerships with grassroots organisations and private companies.

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Digital Makers


Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Head of Impact and Research, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Oliver was a programme manager for Nesta’s digital education projects. He is now Head of Impact and Research at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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