Barclays Bank is one of a host of sponsors of a BBC initiative to give a pocket-sized computer to every year 7 child in the UK for free, with the aim of inspiring digital creativity and developing a new generation of tech pioneers.
Up to one million BBC micro:bit devices will be distributed to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, in an initiative that builds on the legacy of the BBC Micro project of the 1980s that introduced many children to computing for the first time.
Measuring just 4cm by 5cm, the bluetooth-enabled Micro:bit operates as a programmable companion to a dedicated Website, which children can use to create ideas, apps and games, simulate their creations and scale up to more complex coding.
Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC says the UK currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector and believes the Micro:bit can be a major catalyst for change.
"Just as the BBC Micro introduced millions to personal computers 30 years ago, the BBC micro:bit can help equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy," he says. "It's the unique role of the BBC that allows us to bring together an unprecedented partnership to deliver such an ambitious project."
Barclays - which earlier this year launched an online and in-branch 'Code Playground' to help families of all ages acquire digital skills and knowledge - is one of 29 organisations supporting the initiative. The bank will contribute overall product delivery and outreach activities for the Micro:bit and will work alongside firms such ARM, Microsoft, Samsung and Cisco in preparation for a full-scale roll out in October.