Alex Higginson might only be 19 but she has big ambitions to help young people in Liverpool learn the tech skills which will help them secure jobs in later life.
Ten or so years ago AI or Artificial Intelligence was a piece of fiction which often appeared in films and TV as an invisible villain that could destroy the world. Today, AI is no longer fiction but to many people it could still be an invisible enemy that could take their jobs in the not too distant future. The recent global conference held in the UK shows that world leaders are taking concerns about AI seriously.
Whilst AI can sound scary to some, to many people the potential benefits of AI far out weigh the drawbacks. Alex Higginson is one of those people that hold this view. She said: "There are definitely going to be some jobs that aren't needed in the future because of AI but if you grasp the opportunity to learn skills associated with AI you can get new jobs."
Those skills are what Alex is teaching Liverpool's children at Hello Liverpool CIC, the name coming from the Hello World Program which is the first code someone will learn. Her classes, which are being offered across different community centres in Liverpool, covers a variety of skills from learning how to code to how to interact with AI and across different age ranges.
Alex said: "We have tech tots which covers children aged 4 to 8 which is more physical using robots and then for older children they do a six week coding course as well as sessions about how AI can be beneficial to their life in the future." Having started learning how to code when she was just four, Alex understands first-hand how crucial these skills are for finding jobs going forward.
Hello Liverpool CIC's classes are almost entirely free and paid for through grants. Alex said: "Any sessions that require extra equipment might cost money but, for people who do have to pay, it will be for the lowest price possible."
Despite the serious nature of the skills being taught; Alex's classes are meant to be enjoyable. She said: "All of my sessions are meant to be fun like towards Christmas in the classes people are going to learn how to sign Christmas cards with code. Hopefully people will keep coming back as they watch themselves make progress."
Hello Liverpool CIC was created after Alex noticed a gap in the market to teach these skills in Liverpool with the first session taking place at the Kuumba Imani Centre. It was her way of her giving something back to a community she loves. The 19-year-old said: "I was working at Kuumba Imani for almost a year and L8 always felt like somewhere that doesn't get enough focus. I thought with the skills I know how can I help this community?"
Alex is certain these skills will help the community long term. She said: "One thing I love about computers is you don't need to go to university if you have experience with these skills set you can find a job without going to university."
Although Alex grew up in Cambridge, Liverpool has always held a special place in her heart. She said: "I'm living in Liverpool now with my partner but I always use to visit Liverpool growing up because I had family who live here so I feel Scouse."
Alex is hoping to eventually extend her classes beyond just young people. She said: "These courses are open for everyone to take part I'd love to help older people soon."
From December Hello Liverpool CIC is going to be hosting multiple computer courses across different community centres. Alex added: "This is what I love about Liverpool is people always want you to succeed, it makes me feel so positive."