Louise Macdonald, Young Scot Chief Executive

Written by Alan Robertson on 2 October 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect will be running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland.

Louise Macdonald (@Louisemac)

Job Title/Organisation: Chief Executive, Young Scot

What does your role involve?

Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity. We work with young people aged 11-26 across Scotland, helping them to make informed choices, give them access to services and opportunities and help them play a full part in decision-making in their communities. We have over 610,000 members across Scotland.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

Challenges always offer a fantastic chance to ask difficult questions, explore and try new things. Right now, that ranges from how we ensure that young people realise their rights online as well as offline (we are the strategic lead for iRights in Scotland) through to how we can be part of the collective effort in tackling the impact of poverty and inequalities for young people.

We are also working hard with Community Planning Boards across Scotland to maximise the asset they have in the national entitlement smartcard shared platform. It has huge potential across a whole range of services, which is really exciting.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

Far, far too many to mention – working with young people is the most rewarding work there is in my opinion. The moments where you see a young person or a group get switched on – by an opportunity, an experience, a discussion or just a simple conversation – and wanting to be part of making something better, those are what keep me going.

If I had to choose, it would be the Young Scot Awards – our annual event where we celebrate the achievements of young people. They have been part of changing the perceptions of young people here in Scotland.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

Let young people lead. Sort out the gender imbalance. Turn STEM into STEAM (creative innovators are key). Make sure no young person is left behind.

Here at Young Scot we have a Digital Academy which focuses on digital skills, through our Digital Creative Modern Apprenticeship programme which train young people in the creative use of digital as a route to employment and also through partnerships with organisations such as SDS, Skyscanner and CoderDojo Scotland to raise awareness of careers in the digital world for young people. We have learnt so much from all the young people involved – when they see the possibilities of what it can do there is no stopping them.

Which new technology excites you the most?

Anything that helps us become a low carbon world. Technology has to help us tackle the greatest issues of our time surely? Selfishly, as a CEO I’m looking forward to the perfection of the cloning app… it can’t be that far away.

What's your favourite app and why?

Twitter – hands down. As a CEO it’s the best CPD tool I have – to connect, keep up to date, crowdsource and share. A close second is Snapseed – I’m a photographer and it’s great at making something ordinary on the iPhone turn into something a bit more Instagram-worthy!

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

First, young women in tech, and secondly decision-makers recognising that just because a young person has a smartphone it doesn’t mean they are either digitally savvy or switched on. A concerted effort to bridge the digital participation gap that still exists for too many young people is my hope for 2016.

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