Equipping the YMCA Digital Generation

Date: 22 January 2021

How do we ensure children and young people have the right competencies to find their dream jobs in the near future? As we mark the International Day of Education on 24 January, we met the team of Paisley YMCA in Scotland. Since 2015, they have launched 6 youth digital clubs to equip kids and teenagers with creative, computing and design skills.

Around 120 young people between age 8 and 18 are registered to the Paisley YMCA youth clubs. “We realised that the traditional education does not fully reflect what the future of work is”, says Darran Gillan, Youth & Programme Development Manager. “This is why we focus on digital education. There is a clear need for young people to master the new technologies.”

Chimdindu, 9 years old, had no idea about what coding was: “It is my dad who got me registered. And now, I love it. I am coding, drawing and writing storyboards. It is quite complicated but fun. I am learning a lot and I have lots of friends there”.

Charley, 11 years old, agrees: “This is definitely more fun than at school! I think that all this digital learning is important for my future. Most of the jobs will be related to computers”.


girls holding a drawing and a robot
Chimdindu and Charley

Paisley YMCA also has a STEM Girls club, for young women to embrace Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “We know this is a sector usually dominated by men. We offer this space for girls to come together, experiment, discover new potential,  and support each other. This is our most popular youth group” explains Darran Gillan.

Since 2020, due to the pandemic, all these clubs are now held online. “We had to work creatively to ensure digital inclusion”, shares Claire McGinley, Youth and Programme Coordinator. “Many young people do not have their own computer, or do not have unlimited internet access. We collected and donated £22,000 worth of materials from various foundations and government programmes. We distributed laptops and wi-fi dongles to families. This generation was born into technology – and it’s vital to ensure their digital fluency”.

Watch this short video called “Unicorn and Hotdog man”, created by the STEM Girls club, using the stop motion technology.


Watch also this presentation of STEM Girls


Paisley YMCA seek partnerships with other YMCAs to develop a wide range of technology based learning opportunities using virtual reality and online coding projects if interested then email Darran Gillan, Youth & Programmme Development Manager at Paisley YMCA.

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