YNAP's "Digital Week 2018" initiative.

MILAN — The Yoox Net-a-porter Group is committed to educating tomorrow’s tech experts — and possibly providing them with AI-generated design tools.

The leading online luxury fashion retailer has partnered with Italy’s Fondazione Golinelli on the “Digital Week 2018” initiative. Running until Oct. 25 in Bologna, Italy, it offers Italian students ages three to 18 a range of free-of-charge, tech-related workshops and activities.

On Tuesday, the group’s chief executive officer Federico Marchetti, in a speech at the Wired Smarter conference in London, also teased a new project the YNAP Group is working on and is possibly set to introduce — a new private label, with collections informed and generated by data and artificial intelligence, yet designed by a creative team.

The “Digital Week 2018” initiative includes coding classrooms, lessons on video game design and the development of a customized tech gadget called Circuit Playground, among others. The classrooms are organized by YNAP’s tech experts and held in conjunction with Europe Code Week — a nonprofit platform backed by the European Commission, which promotes tech activities, programming and coding throughout the continent.

The project, which is expected to enroll as many as 1,500 students hailing from 25 different schools over the three-week period, is also aimed at promoting and encouraging young people — especially girls — to consider careers in technology and to educate the next generation of digital artisans.

As reported, last July the group commissioned a study in the U.K. to investigate what keeps young women from pursuing studies in technology. Surveying 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 and 1,000 parents of children in the same age bracket, the research showed how half of them believed that tech-related jobs are “unexciting” and more than two-thirds thought roles in tech are mainly about gaming and IT consultancy.

On the footprints of the study, YNAP — which had already targeted female workers and young girls with the “Women in Teach” and Imperial Codelab initiatives, respectively — is celebrating on Tuesday the Ada Lovelace Day, spotlighting female excellence in science and technology as embodied by Lovelace, history’s first programmer.

“We’re proud to be ahead of the curve with women forming two-thirds of our overall talent pool — double that of the tech industry average — but there is more work to be done,” said Yoox Net-a-porter Group’s chief people officer Deborah Lee. “The key to changing the misperceptions highlighted in our research is for leading businesses like YNAP, our peers, industry bodies and key influencers to collaboratively shine a spotlight onto positive role models.”

The group had already partnered with Fondazione Golinelli on Summer Coding camps, running twice a year in Bologna. The latest installment was held Sept. 3 to 7.

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