The Duke of York talks with Cindy Rose and Hugh Milward of Microsoft, supporters of the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, also known as the IDEA award, at St James' Palace, London.

The Duke of York wants UK kids to have the best digital skills in the world – and Microsoft Azure is helping him

A scheme run by the Duke of York to help teach digital skills to young people has been rolled out across the country following a partnership with Microsoft and others.

The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA), was launched at St James’ Palace in London by the Duke and Microsoft UK Chief Executive Cindy Rose, among others.

Inspired by The Duke of Edinburgh Award, which has helped eight million people since its launch in 1956, iDEA allows young people over the age 11 to earn badges and nationally-recognised awards for completing fun and easily accessible online courses.

With 90% of new jobs in the UK requiring digital skills and more than 12 million adults lacking these, according to iDEA, it is hoped that the scheme will offer participants a better chance of entering the workforce.

The Duke of York said: “iDEA hopes to play a crucial role in ensuring that young people have the best possible opportunities to become economically active – to get jobs.

“Today we are proud to finally have a platform with 32 new badges. This platform is freely accessible to the young (and older people) to help them build and represent these important skills.

“We would not be here though without the continued support of Microsoft.”

Youngsters can log on to their on personalised iDEA account, which runs on Microsoft Azure, and select a badge in one of four categories:

  • Citizen – teaches digital awareness, safety and ethics
  • Worker – teaches tools and techniques that are useful in the workplace
  • Entrepreneur – teaches how to come up with ideas and bring them to life
  • Maker – teaches digital creativity and how to create things in a digital world

There are also two bonus categories – Gamer, which teaches youngsters how to make video games, and Independent, which teaches other, useful digital and enterprise skills.

iDEA has been designed to support classroom teaching at secondary schools but can also be used by young people who want to learn skills in their free time, too.

Microsoft is supporting the project with technological advice, its cloud platform – Microsoft Azure – and support for the BBC MicroBit – a small, programmable computer aimed at introducing children to coding.

Kids at school watching Microsoft laptop

Rose said: “The Duke of York and Microsoft share an ambition to encourage all young people to learn digital skills and coding. This is because their future success and fulfilment will depend on these skills. It is vitally important that all children are given the right tools so they can reach their potential and flourish.

“The iDEA initiative is a great way to inspire youngsters and empower them to achieve more, and I am looking forward to seeing Microsoft and The Duke help create the next generation of digital experts.”

Microsoft has launched a number of initiatives aimed at offering more children digital skills, such as releasing an education edition of the popular block-building game Minecraft.