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Cardiff University drives digital skills and innovation in 2023 through successful outreach events

31 January 2024

The Digital Transformation Innovation Institute at Cardiff University has successfully conducted a series of outreach events, focusing on fostering digital skills, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and raising awareness about careers in the rapidly evolving fields of data science, analytics, and cybersecurity.

The institute, which officially launched in 2023, has spearheaded these events to address digital skills gap flagged by industry partners. They focused on supporting the talent pipeline via engaging with young people and informing and inspiring them about digital careers, with the hope of increasing the numbers of young people turning their attention to digital entrepreneurship.

Dr Yulia Cherdantseva, Co-Director of the Digital Transformation Innovation Institute and Director of the university’s Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education said: “Across all sectoral industry engagement events that the Digital Transformation Innovation Institute delivered in its first year, there was one common challenge reported. Whether it is the transportation sector, healthcare, or logistics, the lack of digital skills, and the need for more and better-qualified professionals is evident."

Our outreach activities for young people highlighted the breadth of career options that ubiquitous digital transformation creates. We explored roles in data science and analytics, cyber security, digital creative industries, sustainable manufacturing, and others. We placed strong emphasis on digital entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities, flagging this exciting pathway to young people.
Dr Yulia Cherdantseva Senior Lecturer

Empowering Digital Entrepreneurs

The institute collaborated with the School of Computer Science and Informatics to organise an outreach event on digital entrepreneurship at Abacws. Led by PhD students Iryna Bernyk and Sanyam Vyas, the event was attended by Year 8 students from Westbourne School. The students were introduced to various career opportunities in technology, emphasising that digital transformation extends beyond coding and technology, welcoming those interested in entrepreneurship and business studies to play a pivotal role in future digital innovations.

Mr Vyas said: “I was highly impressed by the students’ unwavering dedication to expanding their knowledge horizons as they delved into brainstorming novel business ideas related to the ever-evolving technology and security landscape; fields that are commonly discussed and implemented within research-focused universities. I strongly encourage schools and colleges to participate in workshops and activities organised by research-focused universities, as such engagement will raise awareness and foster curiosity amongst their students for potential career paths that they could embark on in the future. "

Cyber First Adventurers

In partnership with the university’s Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education, the institute and the regional CyberFirst team, headed by Holly Lidbury, hosted "Cyber First Adventurers" at Abacws. Aimed at Year 7 and 8 students, particularly girls, the event engaged participants in activities like code cracking and 3D design, fostering interest and skills in cybersecurity.

Cyber Security Careers Awareness Day

Alongside the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education, the institute organised a Cyber Security Careers Awareness Day at sbarc/spark. The event featured guest speakers from prominent organisations such as the Joint Information Systems Committee, the Cyber Innovation Hub, and School of Computer Science and Informatics. Targeting A-level students and FE College students, the day focused on showcasing the complexity and multi-disciplinarity of cybersecurity, covering topics like cyber psychology, human-centric cybersecurity, and governance, management, and risk assessment. Participants had the opportunity to explore sbarc/spark and RemakerSpace, emphasising the circular economy and reuse of materials.

The Cyber Innovation Hub, whose headquarters are located at sbarc/spark, offered an inspirational overview of a wide range of career opportunities available in cyber security, and outlined the key skills that are sought after by industry. The Hub offers a range of bootcamp-style training sessions in cyber security in Wales to create a diverse pipeline of security professionals in the region. The event also highlighted to young participants all exciting opportunities and support that the Hub provides to young people in the region with cyber entrepreneurship on its mission to create a world-class pipeline of new cyber security products and high-growth businesses.

Exploring Cryptocurrency

The institute extended an open invitation to all students and local schools for a cryptocurrency event run by School of Mathematics PhD student Gabriela Filipkowska, supervised by Dr Anqi Lin and Professor Maggie Chen. The event highlighted many of the debates around the use of cryptocurrencies including those concerning swift financial gains, innovative technology, volatile markets, and potential for fraud. It featured games, presentations on topics such as blockchain technology and bitcoin mining, and opportunities for hands-on experience via a game developed by Ms Filipkowska.

Ms Filipkowska said: “While companies started embracing this new technology, many people are unfamiliar with it and its meaning. It can be a complicated topic, and therefore we carefully designed presentations, digital and board games, so that through active engagement attendees immersed themselves in the crypto world, and its technology and won exciting crypto rewards. I am happy to see that we have achieved our goal by spreading awareness of this new technology, as well as the benefits and threats that happen in this field.”

Get involved

Throughout these events the Digital Transformation Innovation Institute emphasised the pressing need for digital skills, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The institute encourages local schools to express their interest in participating in future events, fostering a continuous dialogue with institute to address the evolving landscape of digital transformation.

Contact Dr Yulia Cherdantseva on to learn more.

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