Code breakers: the PwC Hive Academy boosting young people’s confidence

Written by: PwC Posted: 01/04/2021

BL72_PwC_AD_Narelle HeightWorking closely with schools, businesses can play a key role in equipping young people to succeed in a digital world. This is what PwC’s Hive Academy aims to do. We don’t just teach technical skills, but also help to instil the 4Cs of edtech – curiosity, creativity, collaboration and confidence – needed to make the most of new technology. By Narelle Height (pictured), Senior Outreach Education Manager at PwC Channel Islands

The need to get technical education – edtech – up to speed reflects a world that’s digitising at a phenomenal pace. By the time today’s year 1 pupils finish school, the way people live, work and interact could be almost unrecognisable. 

Change on this scale can cause apprehension. PwC analysis reveals that around 30% of jobs in Jersey and Guernsey are potentially at risk from automation between now and 2035. 

But digital transformation also brings opportunities to free people from mundane work and create new and more fulfilling tech-enabled forms of employment.

Falling short

How can we ensure our young people are ready for this brave new world? As a teacher, university lecturer and now at PwC, this is the question I’ve spent my career seeking to address. 

Computing and digital skills form an important part of the national curriculum. Teachers do a great job in developing a digital grounding in the early years. But engagement in computing and related skills falls off as students go through school. The low uptake among female students is especially troubling. 

This disengagement is compounded by gaps in teaching and not enough linking up between the key stakeholders. 

Non-specialist teachers often lack support and confidence in their ability to teach computing. Businesses are keen to help.

But often what they offer schools isn’t aligned with the national curriculum and therefore teachers are reluctant to use it. In turn, businesses often complain that students come out of school without the basic skills they need in the world of work. 

A bridge to the future

Here at PwC, we’re determined to play our part in bridging these gaps and ensuring school-leavers have the skills and confidence to succeed. 

Our Hive Academy provides tailored training and support for teachers, students and parents. Rather than just focusing on IT skills, the programme also looks at the kind of capabilities that are critical in releasing the potential of technology, fostering innovation and improving future employability. 

These include creativity, collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, computational thinking, problem-solving and negotiation.

Bringing computing to life

Through the Hive Academy, we want to engage students by demonstrating the importance of digital technologies in all areas of life. We’re also determined to make computing fun. 

To encourage teachers to take up the programme, we want to make it as relevant as possible to the national curriculum. This includes curriculum-aligned coding courses and classes on how to create a profile for job platforms. 

To help build confidence among non-specialist teachers, we offer structured lesson plans and dedicated resources, training and support. Teachers can then deliver the programme themselves in the following school year, though we’re always on hand if they need help. 

This is a major investment for PwC. We provide the facilitators, customised course design, software, training for teachers and other elements of the programme all for free.

What’s our motivation? Well, Hive Academy is good for us. We’re moving to a more digitally-enabled way of working and serving clients. Having the new generation come through with the right skills and training will provide a valuable source of talent for PwC, our clients and our suppliers. 

A lot of our people also volunteer as Hive Academy facilitators. This is hugely rewarding for them. It also enables them to apply their digital capabilities and hone their engagement and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, this is the right thing to do. We want to play our part in creating a prosperous and fulfilling future for the community here in Jersey. 

Contact: Narelle Height, Senior Education Manager, PwC, at

This advertising feature was first published in the March/April 2021 edition of Businesslife magazine

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