220 state school pupils from non-privileged homes will learn to code through two new Sutton Trust programmes designed to improve social mobility in the digital sector, a sector predicted to provide over 100,000 new jobs by 2020, it was announced today. Imperial Sutton Scholars will help pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 learn more about coding, programming and the application of these skills in the sciences, while Pathways to Coding will pilot a programme of support for pupils between the ages of 16 and 18.

In 2015, the Sutton Trust asked the Boston Consulting Group to investigate the access gap in the digital sector. They identified major skills shortages in the fields of technology and coding but also found significant access barriers stopping non-privileged young people from pursuing careers in the sector. Non-privileged students are not exposed to information about coding from a young age, are under-represented on the STEM degree courses that large tech companies tend to recruit from and cannot take the financial risk that is part of working for a start-up company.

There are around 1.5m jobs in the digital sector in the UK, of which around 400,000 directly relate to coding. If growth rates in the industry continue, there will be over 100,000 new coding jobs by 2020. But in spite of this rapid growth, students from non-privileged backgrounds remain less likely to have the academic credentials and skills to access these roles. Both Imperial Sutton Scholars and Pathways to Coding aim to widen the pipeline from which the tech industry can recruit.

The programmes will offer a comprehensive course of support, enabling students to master coding and programming as well as gaining the skills, advice and experience they need to access top jobs.

Imperial Sutton Scholars, delivered by Imperial College London, will support two cohorts of 60 pupils during Years 7 – 9. The students will be drawn from 10 – 12 carefully targeted schools in Greater London and will benefit from activity days at Imperial and summer residentials. The programme aims to boost the pupils’ aspirations to study STEM subjects.

Pathways to Coding, delivered by Queen Mary University of London, will support two cohorts of 50 students during their A-levels. Students will be recruited at the beginning of Year 12 and will be offered a range of support include e-mentoring, coding clubs, campus coding days, talks and a hackathon residential summer school. Applications to join the first Pathways to Coding cohort open on Friday 26th August.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment, said today:

“The digital sector is set to be a major area of growth for the UK over the next few years and there are many fantastic and financial rewarding careers on offer for talented young people.

“But we need to make sure that these opportunities are available to all young people, not just those from better-off backgrounds. Through the development of these two new programmes, we will support young people from low and middle income homes to develop the skills and confidence they need to pursue careers as coders.”

The Sutton Trust is grateful to a generous donor for their support of these new programmes.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:  Hilary Cornwell or Conor Ryan on 0207 802 1660.


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 170 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. The Sutton Trust also runs Pathways programmes in the following sectors: Law; Medicine; and STEM.
  3. Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 16,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for society. Founded in 1907, Imperial builds on a distinguished past – having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics – to shape the future. Imperial researchers work across disciplines to improve health and wellbeing, understand the natural world, engineer novel solutions and lead the data revolution.

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