Categories
Automation Careers

The Impact of Automation on Career Development

This month is National Career Development month. Naturally, we at Find Your Flex are invested in the nation’s career development at every level.

This year’s theme is centred on how Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and Automation is effecting the Future of Work. And how the career development of the nation needs to evolve when taking this into account.

Automation and how it is impacting the workforce is a development that Find Your Flex has been watching closely. We have done our part to keep people informed of these developments and how they will be impacted by these. Now we wish to join the National Career Development Association in raising awareness on this subject and how existing career development practices need to be prepared for the inevitable.

Automation is the Future

We’ve discussed the topic of automation and how it effects certain industries such as retail and hospitality and how it effects national and global security.

But the fact is; automation and A.I will effect everything in the future. We are only baring witness to the beginning; video technology has been introduced to most sports. We speak to chat bots on websites far more than having real people deal with our enquiries (often to our frustration). And does anyone even order at the til in McDonald’s anymore?

This will only expand and increase as time goes on and even more efficient technology will be developed to carry out tasks that people are required to do. Many existing manual job roles will become obsolete, as many already have.

Ignorance won’t be Bliss

There’s no point trying to resist this inevitable change or delude our individual selves that “it won’t effect me and my prospects” because it will, it’s happening as we speak. And if we choose to ignore this and do nothing, what will happen? Have you seen the Disney Pixar film WALL-E? If not look down below to see what happened to all the people of an automated society who did nothing and just let tech take over!

(Image sourced from psycritic.com)

The scary thing is, this is only partially a joke. Is this really an impossible stretch from where we are now? Staring at screens all day, communicating without any physical interaction and having food delivered to us with just the click of a button.

All we’re really missing is the floating chairs and trust me, there’s probably some tech wizard out there right now trying to change that. So what can we do to avoid this?

Develop New Career Development

The answer is pretty simple, we do what humans always do when faced with change, we adapt and evolve. And with this particular obstacle, the answer lies in what we call career development, which encompasses everything we do to grow professionally.

In education, automation and A.I have to become a bigger part of the national curriculum. In the sense that we need to look at how individual subjects are effected by today’s technology and make sure the next generation are fully equipped to understand and utilize it. This needs to start as early as possible and be a vital part of their ongoing education.

“I must prepare my two- and three-year-old sons to race with the robots, and not against them. Our kids are going to meet an economy with far fewer entry-level positions and will have to clamber up a receding ladder. That means being in schools equipped to exceed the averages, not rising to meet them.” – Kristen Millares Young, The Guardian

It doesn’t stop at schools though, this goes for colleges, universities, apprenticeships, traineeships, returner programmes, company progression schemes etc.

Every. Single. Form. Of Career Development MUST impart knowledge and skills that will enable people to gain employment in an automated world.

If someone is looking to enter the retail industry, they need to be taught skills on how to monitor, analyse and utilize technologies within that industry. The same goes for roles in hospitality, health and social care, construction etc. With every new form of automation there will be new opportunities for the workforce linked to that technology. Whether it is maintaining said technology or a role that uses the data that technology provides.

The Fears of Career Development in the Digital Age

When talking about a future that is going to be dominated by automated technologies there is an aspect that needs to be addressed.

For a lot of people, this future is a terrifying one. As it leaves them feeling uncertain about their place in it.

The reason for this is that some of us find technology more difficult to use than others. This is especially true for some people who grew up without this level of technology in their lives.

When working in a certain way for a lengthy period and to then be told everything is going to change and you need to learn all these new technological skills in order to remain employed. That would scare pretty much anyone.

But it isn’t just older generations that this can seem daunting for. There are plenty of children, teenagers and young adults, that find tech more difficult to get their heads round.

The issue is when we’re talking about career development evolving in preparation for the “digital age”. Talking about, data, automation, artificial intelligence etc. Someone who isn’t necessarily tech minded can hear these phrases and assume that you need to be a computer genius to be suited for a role in technology.

But you don’t.

Career Developing for Automation with Find Your Flex

Having the mindset of needing to be a computer genius to be suitable for ANY role involving technology, is like saying someone needs to be a fully trained architect to build a sand castle.

Technology like everything else, has varying levels of simplicity. And its important to keep this in mind when applying for jobs or if you want to progress in your career.

There are going to be entry-level roles involving technology that you will likely find easy once given simple but clear instructions on how to use it.

At Find Your Flex, we have been doing our part to alleviate these worries and are working with businesses who are providing traineeships, apprenticeships, returner programmes and skills courses. All of these are designed with automation and the digital age in mind.

Each of these forms of career development are designed for people from all walks of life, to be able to begin or continue working in an automated environment. And we will continue to do this so that no one has to worry about automation affecting the career prospects.

Visit our Apprenticeship Hub, Returner Hub and Online Courses to find out more!

Categories
Business Careers Future of work Interviews And CV's Recruitment

Salaries In Job Descriptions: Candidates want Employers to be Upfront

Find Your Flex is a platform with a purpose. And that purpose is to build a better future of work for all. Today we are discussing salaries in job descriptions!

Recently we conducted a poll on various social media platforms on the inclusion of stated salaries in job descriptions. The response was overwhelming.

We asked the question: “If a Salary isn’t stated on a Job Description does it put you off?

The post went viral, reaching over 100,000 views and over 4,100 people voted. 84% of people who voted said; yes they would be put off by a job description that does not state a salary.

Many of the voters supplied their reasons why and we noticed a particular pattern forming.

No Time for Time Wasters

It usually puts me off entirely. If the job sounds like a particularly good fit and I enter a discussion with a recruiter about it, the salary range is the first question I’ll ask. If the recruiter won’t give me the salary range at the start, I’ll politely end the call there as I don’t want to waste my time.

The most prominent reason given for why people would be put off applying, was that they didn’t want to waste time.

Supplementary to that was that most people apply for jobs that will continue to facilitate their lifestyle needs.

Applicants don’t want to waste their time applying. Only to find out further down the line that the salary will not sufficiently meet their needs.

How can you make a decision about viability of changing a role/ company if you can’t equate whether you could continue to afford to live your existence?

Applicants also see this as a lack of respect in valuing their time. Or even shows ignorance about the amount of time and effort candidates put into their job applications.

If a candidate really wants a role they can spend hours catering their CV and covering letter specifically to that role and company.

Why should you spend the time and energy polishing a resume, applying, stressing, interviewing, waiting…just to find the salary range is something you would have never applied for in the first place?

Salaries in job descriptions – a lack of transparency results in a lack of trust

Good candidates who pull out are less likely to apply to the organisation again and more likely to share their experience with their connections.

No company should ever underestimate the power of word of mouth.

It only takes one applicant to have a bad experience during the recruitment process for this to snowball. Social Networking and Social Media is a huge part of our daily lives.

All it takes is one post by an applicant with the right social connections to spread the word about how poor an employer’s recruitment process is.

I somehow always get the impression that these companies are looking for the highest skilled employee who ticks all the right boxes whom they can then insult by offering as little as possible for their services.

This all contributes to a company’s brand reputation. When it is clear that one aspect of the business has a negative reputation, it starts a domino effect in the eyes of the public. It’s clear to see their train of thought:

If a company has poor recruitment, they must be a poor employer. If they’re a poor employer, the service can’t be great. If the service isn’t great I should take my custom elsewhere.

Even in its simplest form, if you’re not being open about yourselves as an employer, why should candidates trust you?

Believe you are good and fair employer? Then literally put your money/salaries where your mouth is so candidates will know it!

If you are proud of what you pay your people you will have no problem, putting this out.

Don’t play games with people’s livelihoods

What puts me off is when the recruiter asks what salary you expect. I just reply, asking what the company is offering. You can’t beat around the bush… it gets you nowhere and does no one any favours in the long run … Be up front and don’t treat it like a game. Life is too short!!

Even if salaries are negotiable, a range between the minimum and maximum should be advertised to show applicants where they stand.

And once those negotiations begin, both parties need to be forthcoming about what their expectations are to meet a certain salary.

This is important as salaries can also help an applicant determine their level of seniority.

The ludicrous requirements for even the most junior roles make it difficult to determine the seniority, in a way that salary absolutely defines.

In negotiating anything, both sides need to be aware of the stakes. A candidate needs to know what it is they are negotiating for. It is better to state a salary in the job description than make applicants struggle to negotiate in the dark. This is just another form of playing games.

And its important that the employer is not considered a dictator, as this once again impacts their reputation. If the salary is negotiable, both parties must have something to negotiate with.

“Negotiating power lies with the employer if a salary isn’t listed. Whilst you can negotiate during the final stage of interviews, you should at least see salary expectations and that your potential employer has done some research into the role before you apply.

Just ticking a recruitment box?

It makes me feel like the recruiter is just trying to collect CVs to stick in a database and tick a box.”

This may not be just about salary. A lack of effort and details in a job description will be a sure sign to any applicant that the employer is not overly interested in the quality of the applicant.

But it is clear that to some applicants, an unstated salary is a red flag that employers do not care about the application and are just ticking a HR box.

Thus sending a message that employers don’t care enough to put in the research of the role they are recruiting for. And what the standard salary is for such a role.

If you don’t advertise a salary then for me it says to a potential applicant is these guys are potentially looking to do this on the cheap or have no idea about the marketplace and so can’t even pitch a salary for the role.”

It can also show a poor HR department or recruiter. As top quality candidates who know their value will be looking out for a salary. These will be less likely to apply for the role.

Where an abundance of perhaps under-qualified candidates will be in their place resulting in hours of sifting through applications.

“It usually means HR and hiring managers spending unnecessary time sifting through more CV’s and interviewing candidates that if they discover the salary is too low will pull out.”

Salaries in job descriptions: The candidates have spoken. Now employers must listen

The response was loud and clear. The general theme that employers have a responsibility to state salaries in their job descriptions cannot be ignored.

If employers continue to omit such crucial information from the job description they not only risk losing potentially amazing recruits, but could be doing substantial damage to their brand reputation.

To conclude, its not difficult to state a salary in job description, even if its a range between the minimum and the maximum, at least then everyone knows where they stand. The only one that stands to miss out on not stating a salary is the employer.

Categories
Automation Career Change Careers Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Future of work Technology Industry

Cyber Security: Filling the Gender Skills Gap in Tech

Living in the digital age brings with it a whole new host of threats. 

The ever looming threat of automation and the number of job roles it will render as obsolete in the not to distant future. We can already see this in retail and hospitality industries, how many have replaced manned tills with self-service kiosks? The implications are there and to be sustainable, automation must create the same number of jobs it takes away. 

But there needs to be a learning curve to bridge the digital skills gap created during this process from now until 2025 when 10M jobs will fall out of the UK economy.   

People need to have the opportunity to learn the skills to be eligible for the new emerging roles, created by automation. 

This is why Skills City and Find Your Flex are stepping in; so we can provide these opportunities to those most in need of a “step up”. 

One of the main issues of the digital age is safety. 

Fraudsters don’t need to speak to you directly to steal from you, children cannot always escape school-bullies even in their own homes, wars these days are not always fought on land, sea or sky. 

All of these threats and many more take place online. Cyber-bullying, Online Fraudsters, Cyber-terrorists, Hackers etc. 

In the digital age, our lives are online, therefore the threats are too. 

So what’s the answer? 

Our physical safety is protected by the police, security guards, firefighters, paramedics, military and so on. 

Our online identities are protected by Information Security Administrators, Social Media Moderators, Security Software Developers, Cyber Intelligence Analysts and more. These roles have become just as vital to our protection as the former mentioned roles, all they require is the right tech skills to really set people on the right path.

Women in Tech

White males largely dominate the physical security roles mentioned previously. Unfortunately white males also dominate most roles within the technology sector. Currently only 23% of people in STEM occupations are female, including tech and this has to stop.  

The world is full of talented and intelligent women that could easily make a successful career within technology. And yet males dominate the industry.

It almost feels ridiculous to say this in this day in age; women are just as clever and technology minded as men. 

Why do I say that? 

Because clearly the message isn’t sinking in. 

This is why Skills City are adamant that women in the North West, whether they be graduates or career changers, need to consider a career in tech. 

We need to change these statistics and these online courses are the perfect way to do that. 

Every single student is guaranteed a job interview upon completion.  

The pandemic and the process of automation provides the perfect opportunity for us to see technology savvy women, recareer and make a HUGE DIFFERENCE to the technology workforce. 

GIF sourced from eloquence-of-felicities.tumblr.com

Cyber Security: We need our Cyber Soldiers

Cyber Security has become a vital part of national security. 

We hear about it all the time on the news, cyber terrorism and hackers are just as much of a threat to our personal safety and security as any physical threats.Often these things even hint at an act of war, and why wouldn’t they? 

With everything being online these days, a war can happen from the keyboards in your office and more easily than weapons could be mobilized on a battlefield. And the people sitting at those keyboards are becoming just as much our protective force as people in the military. 

The military have the stereotype of being for “big strong men” 

(although have you seen the Army’s latest recruitment ad to attract women? Check it out and Google Army + Emma). 

 The tech industry has developed a similar stereotype. 

Yet there was a supposed reason that women didn’t want to join the armed forces (and still do, especially in some divisions). The reason being that they weren’t thought to be as “physically capable” as men, which is bulls*#t. 

Yet even if that was true, there can be be no such reason for women not joining Cyber Security roles. 

Women are just a clever as any man. 

Just as capable of developing protective software and analyzing cyber threats. 

In this industry no one can deny that women are on any equal footing in terms of their capabilities and have a right defend their families and country as much as any man.

GIF Sourced from tenor.com

Ensuring our kids have Cyber Security

The world has had to accept that the majority of children spend a lot of their time online. And this of course brings threats that have already been plaguing us for years now. 

Our kids are not always safe from bullies or predators when they get home. This is a scary and uncomfortable topic that’s not nice to hear. 

But it’s real and we must discuss it in order to combat it. 

As adults we recognise that cyber bullying has caused many grown adults to leave social media and in the worst cases, cause depression, anxiety or even contribute towards someone taking their own life. Some have even had the terrifying experience of being stalked or threatened online.

So it’s completely understandable why there are many parents who don’t allow their child online because of these threats. 

While we’d never tell anyone how to raise their child, what we do know is as this is without question “The digital age”, preventing them from going online is likely to be a losing battle.  

Yes there are threats online but would you stop your child going to school to avoid bullying? 

Or prevent them going out with friends because there are ‘bad’ people out there? 

It’s the same basic principle here. Plus, so much social interaction between today’s youth is online. Keeping your kids away from it could affect them in other ways. 

So you might be thinking: “What can I do to help resolve this then?”

Like everything, nothing is black and white. You don’t need to either just let them go online and hope for the best or ensure they’re never on it at all. If you are a mother or father who is concerned for your child’s online safety, be a protective force for them and all children. 

You don’t have to be a techno genius who develops security software. With the basic tech skills taught in these courses you could become a Social Media Moderator or a Security Administrator. 

These are roles that actively seek out offensive, threatening or suspicious online behaviour and put a stop to it. 

If this is something you feel passionately about, equip yourself with the skills to do it.

In just 14 weeks, you could have the Cyber Skills to help keep our future generations safe. 

GIF Sourced from Pinterest

Cyber Security Online Course

Just like with any industry, the roles within Cyber Security vary and there has never been so much demand for all manner of commercial businesses looking for people like you NOW. 

The base skills for most cyber roles are taught at Raytheon Cyber Academy. Plus  it provides many transferable tech skills that would benefit another role within the sector.  

Automation will soon render many jobs obsolete. To create a new income in a sector that can offer flexible working, it’s imperative women join and participate in the tech workforce. We have to be the change we want to see. 

What if Cyber Security isn’t necessarily the tech avenue for you? 

Then you should definitely look at one of the other Skills City courses such as creative 3D Graphic Design and cloud engineering. Take look at courses from Unity Centre of Excellence and AWS re/start respectively. 

A career change may is both a smart choice but also an inevitability.

Check out all of Skills City tech boot camps here

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work Meet the Team

Meet Kristina: Flexible Working Life of a Team Administrator

Administration is an intricate part of every industry, Administrators keep the wheels turning. Yet the role itself kind of has the stigma of being a 9 to 5 office job and perhaps that stigma is real. But we at Find Your Flex are aiming to ensure that in future no role has this stigma. And administration is an industry that needs to incorporate Flexible Working into all of its roles. There can be no greater example of this than our own Team Administrator Kristina Mich. Who has consented to share with us her unique journey to Flexible Working and why she now has a passion to bring it to others in her industry as you will see in the video below!

Journey to being a Flexible Working Mum

Kristina’s journey to Flexible Working starts in a very relatable way and one of the main reasons why Find Your Flex got started. Kristina became a Mum and naturally this became her top priority. However, Kristina found herself missing the woman she was before Motherhood; a passionate driven career woman who is passionate about helping teams reach their goals.

Though unfortunately, early on Kristina faced the harsh reality that many businesses are more concerned about the time you dedicate to them. Rather than working with you to see what hours are best for you and how you can be most productive. Kristina grew tired of fruitless job interviews with employers who did not respect her family needs. When she came across Find Your Flex, she was impressed by what she saw and it seemed to be the perfect company for her to be a part of. She took a chance and emailed our CEO Cheney Hamilton and it became clear things happen for a reason.

Flexible Working = Flourishing Talent

Kristina received a response and an interview from Cheney. And of course Kristina showcased every value and ideal that Find Your Flex was built upon. Within no time at all she was part of a team and environment that Kristina dived head first into and quickly proved herself to be a talented and dedicated individual! She quickly put her skills to good use and dedicated herself to picking everything up extremely quickly. She wasted no time in proving her value by getting to know each member of the team and being supportive and encouraging. As well as providing some unique resources only she could provide (some of these are showcased in the video below).

Kristina found the work-life balance she had been searching for. Feeling fulfilled in a role that allowed her to work from home without the need to commute via a train journey that could take hours. She is able to be the excellent Mother she is, as well as being the equally excellent Team Administrator for Find Your Flex. Having the ability to lead a full family life while having a flourishing professional life she can excel and grow in. But staying true to her innate personality traits, Kristina shows that she doesn’t want to be the only one to have the chance at having a Flexible Working role.

Bringing Flexible Working to every Industry

Like the rest of the Find Your Flex team, Kristina’s personal career journey lit a fire within her. After seeing firsthand the lack of adaptability of other employers and that the grass is greener on the other side of the Flexible Working hill. Kristina is eager as part of the Find Your Flex team to bring Flexible Working to people. Not only people in her own situation, but to everyone!

Kristina puts it very well in the video below, why should businesses incorporate Flexible Working into all their roles? “It just makes sense.” as she points out; work and life are intertwined. If your employees are happy they will work harder and add bring more value to your company. It is a lot simpler than some businesses make it out to be. And Kristina is a great example of how Flexible Working does work!

In Kristina’s own words:

Thank You Kristina for sharing your insights with us!

If you are inspired by Kristina’s experience, and want to start your own journey towards Flexible Working. You can start by checking out all our live job roles here.

Kristina is an invaluable part of our team. Want to learn about the rest of our team too? And why we are all invested and passionate about making Flexible Working available for everyone? If so you can meet all us here!

Thank you again Kristina for being a force that will one day make Flexible Working available for everyone!

Categories
Careers Equality and Diversity Future of work

Are We Doing Enough For Women In STEM Roles?

There’s no denying the gender gap that exists in so many industries, women in STEM roles are sadly no exception to this. But research into this has raised some concerning questions and even more concerning answers. There are not enough women in STEM roles, that much is clear but is enough being done to change that?

With the Edinburgh Science Festival coming up, we at Find Your Flex thought this is a topic we want to discuss. Exploring why this is still an issue and the possible solutions to this and why change in this area is so important.

Is there a gender gap in STEM industries?

Naturally we don’t just want to state there is a gender gap without backing it up. But the short answer is yes; there is a significant gap when it comes to women in STEM roles. This is proven by the PwC’s Tech She Can Charter and their report on Women in Tech in the UK. In 2017, WISE conducted research that showed that only 23% of people in STEM occupations were female. This makes over three quarters of the workforce in these roles male. Whats worse is that a separate study in the US shows that only 5% of women were in STEM leadership roles.

Now it would not be fair to say there has been no progress. As the research of WISE revealed that the number of women in STEM roles had increased by 2% from the previous year. Is this progress? Yes… is it enough? No. If this increase per year holds steady it would still be over a decade before there is an equal number of men and women in STEM roles. That is also not taking the pandemic into consideration, this could have had an impact on that increase percentage one way or the other. Either way it is not good enough, the gap needs to be closed at a far quicker rate. So, where does the problem begin?

The Lack of Girls Studying STEM Subjects in School

There are a lot of employment issues that when traced back to their source can start in education. PwC’s research shows that this issue may be no different. They conducted a survey that of over 1000 school students; 83% of the males were studying STEM subjects, compared with only 64% females. Now 19% may not seem like much of a difference however, when you take into account the number of STEM subjects and the number of students, this is still a concerning gap.

A similar statistic in university students studying STEM subjects shows a 52% male versus 30% female difference. But when you break it down the results are more shocking. For example Engineering takes 13% of male STEM students but only 2% female, which says a lot. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why? During interviews, young women stated they didn’t want to study STEM subject as it does not factor into the career they want. Though what is worrying is the response when asked if at any point during their education (including careers advice) a role in technology was suggested. Only 16% of girls had technology careers suggested to them, whereas 33% of males were given these suggestions.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that during interviews many of the young women indicated that many STEM subjects and roles are male dominated which is why they did not wish to study them. And they are right, these statistics prove that. But they also sadly prove that schools are not doing enough to encourage otherwise. And this needs to change.

Early years education and STEM

As signatories of The Tech Talent Charter we are aware of such organisations such as Tech She Can. A charter in which signatories pledge to work with  schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils and teachers about technology careers.

Let’s not forget the importance of early years education. These children are our future. A future that needs the brightest and most imaginative individuals to be able to flourish, regardless of gender or background. This is the point when children absorb information like sponges. The formative stage where children learn more quickly that at any other stage in life. It is at this point we need to inspire our children. Our young girls need role models and a complete removal from gender bias in STEM. Perhaps the focus should be on our teachers and equipping them with the tools needed to do this.

Women in STEM roles in the Media and Pop-Culture

In PwC’s study, only 22% of students could name a well-known female working in technology. The truth is when you think of famous people in STEM roles, the vast majority are male. There are of course many pioneering women in STEM roles throughout history. Women like Ada Lovelace or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and many more. Yet despite the numerous women who have revolutionized the world through their work in STEM roles, their names don’t immediately spring to mind. We tend to think of the Steven Hawkings or Albert Einsteins, but why? It could be down to the fact the media over the years have recognized and celebrated the male figures over women. Perhaps the media should be doing more to promote women in STEM roles. Especially during the pandemic, both men and women dealing with this issue have given information and opinions via news channels and in print.

In terms of pop-culture, there are women portrayed in STEM roles in film and particularly television. One that comes to mind is The Big Bang Theory, a comedy that originally started with a cast in which all the scientists were male. Though this changed as the series progressed with female scientists being showcased and two becoming mainstay cast members. Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz with a Ph. D in microbiology and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler a neurobiologist, the latter of whom’s actress has a Ph. D in neuroscience in real life. The show and characters are to this day extremely popular. The two showcased how the females of the group were just as intelligent and successful as their male counterparts and had equally large personalities.

Though other hit television shows have also portrayed STEM female role models. Shows such as Body of Proof; featuring a female protagonist Dr. Megan Hunt; a former Neurosurgeon turned Medical Examiner who has a straight-talking, never-back-down attitude. Even featuring a female in a STEM leadership role as Dr. Kate Murphy is the Chief Medical Examiner. Though there are other shows that showcase females in STEM roles: Grays Anatomy, Casualty, Holby City, Doctor Who etc. So in terms of pop-culture there isn’t a lack of fictional females in STEM roles, so why is there still a lack of non-fictional females in these roles? Its high time life started imitating art on that score.

How to get More Women In STEM roles?

PwC believe that the technology sector must take steps to deal with some of these highlighted issues. However, this should be the responsibility of all STEM industries to get more women into STEM roles as a whole. First and foremost it is the responsibility of STEM organisations to get more involved in the education of young people. They need to do more to raise awareness and showcase the importance of these roles. Make them attractive to young women as well as men. Many students did indicate the reason they wouldn’t consider a role in technology is they don’t know enough about it. STEM organisations should also look inwards to ensure they are providing the women in their company with the same opportunities as the men. More women in senior STEM roles creates more role models and inspirations for future generations.

Schools also need to do better in encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. The statistics above show there is not enough encouragement or access on either front. If girls voice concerns on entering male dominant industries, there needs to be encouragement to overcome this. The research showed roles that make a difference were appealing to young women. Therefore there should be encouragement from both schools and STEM organisations that pursuing these roles makes a difference. A shift in perception is the first and arguably most important step.

The media need to do better at portraying female STEM role models. Make a bigger splash about the life altering contributions females make in STEM fields. Its important that these women are at the forefront of STEM fields to give young women something to aspire to and show them that they are just a capable as any males in this area. Pop-culture is doing a good job at presenting women in these roles, however there is room for improvement. Perhaps television, film and books aimed at a much younger audience should feature more STEM characters. This very well could plant the seeds of girls pursuing STEM fields when they are older.

Hopefully when young girls are grown up enough to make a decision whether or not to pursue a STEM career, the world will be a different place. One where there are just as many female role models in this sector and no obstacles. Its up to society to drive these changes, we need do our best now to set the wheels in motion.

If you want to read more about inspirational women in this and other fields click here! Or more about The Tech Talent Charter then click here.

Categories
Business Careers Mental Health

Mental Health First Aiders in the Workplace

As it is Mental Health Awareness week, Find Your Flex wants to do its part in raising said awareness. We are calling on all organisations to prioritise having Mental Health First Aiders on site for their staff at all times. We wish to help Mind.org.uk spread the word on mental health and how as a society we can bring further awareness and support to this matter.

Why it is an employer’s Responsibility to Provide Mental Health First Aiders.

Thankfully, society is moving forward in recognising and supporting people’s mental health. Something that was more or less a taboo subject not that long ago. However, now that mental health is a top priority, we must take steps to support this. At present employers must have an onsite First Aider to deal with any physical issues that can occur. However, it is now just as important that businesses provide Mental Health First Aiders for their staff.

At all times there are people struggling with their mental health. Whether due to ongoing issues in this area or in response to some traumatic or stressful event. Employers cannot expect their output and quality of work to be of the highest standard during this time. Therefore ensuring the company has a trained Mental Health First Aider equipped to support people is just as much an investment as anything else. However, it is more of an obligation. Mental health issues can be just as damaging and debilitating as physical health issues. Therefore businesses have the obligation to keep their employees as safe as they can in this regard.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

It is important for a Mental Health First Aider to set boundaries. Just as a physical First Aider is not a doctor, a Mental Health Frist Aider is not a psychologist. They are not there to diagnose people on their mental health. What they are first and foremost, is someone who will listen. A Mental Health First Aider is a good listener; understanding, empathetic and approachable. They are given tools to properly respond to certain situations regarding mental health. While they are not meant to provide diagnosis or ongoing support, they are shown how to recognise symptoms. And can advise seeking further professional help, or in severe cases report concerns to the appropriate manager.

Fundamentally, a Mental Health First Aider is there to provide reassurance, information and acknowledgment. Sometimes all a person needs is to talk to someone about the issue. In more serious circumstances a Mental Health First Aider is able to provide information to get the professional help they require. Mental Health First Aiders are often the first point of call for people who may not know they have a serious mental health issue and need professional help. Therefore it is imperative that we have more Mental Health First Aiders on the workforce in every sector. Just like with physical First Aiders, there are training courses to become a Mental Health First Aider. MHFA England are one such course providers, look here to find out more about becoming a Mental Health First Aider and what the role entails.

Mental Health and the Future of Working

As we head toward the future of work, we are claiming to be a more diverse and inclusive society. Organisations are also claiming that their working environment is diverse and inclusive. In order to prove this, having adequate Mental Health care is a must. We know now how important this is and it is vital that the proper support is in place for workers and even their families if need be. Businesses are taking the steps to accommodate mental health issues; flexible working, mental health days, stress related leave etc. This is the next step to ensuring people have the support they need personally and professionally in this area.

For companies that don’t have these support systems in place, that is no longer acceptable. The Future of Work is having the correct support for mental health in place. One day this could become a legal obligation rather than a moral or ethical one. It would look far better if businesses already have this in place when that day comes.

For a further look into what employers need to do to accommodate people, check out one of our other blogs on what changes employers need to make concerning neurodiverse people.

Categories
Automation Digital Skills Green Technology Industry

Digital Pollution: Make Tech Green

As its Earth Day this week, Find Your Flex is doing its part on raising awareness and inciting change to make a greener world. Digital Pollution is one of the biggest contributors to global pollution right now. This may surprise some readers, when you think of the word “digital” and its many connotations, the thought of it being a cause of pollution may seem surprising. Though it shouldn’t, as this is the digital age. The digital industry is one of if not the largest industry on the planet right now, so naturally it is contributing to global pollution. So, what is digital pollution and why is it important to know about it?

What Digital Pollution Is

The digital industry has been growing for decades. Every year something physical is replaced by something digital. Once upon a time, our only way of communicating with someone far away was to write a letter. Then it takes days or weeks to be received and read by the intended recipient. Then came emails which could be read in minutes, now we have direct messages that can be read and responded to in seconds. Long ago the only way to speak to someone face to face was to meet up in person. Now we can speak to people without getting out of bed; by picking up a smart phone or laptop and using services such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype etc. Digital has made the impossible possible over the years and that is something that especially now we are profoundly grateful for, but it comes at a price.

The Shift Project has been conducting research for several years to see the impact digital evolution is having on the climate. Its easy to forget what goes into creating digital device and services, which is why its easy to assume digital is environmentally friendly. But that assumption could not be further from the truth. CO2 emissions of ICT has grown by 450 million tons since 2013. And the energy intensity of the ICT sector is growing by 4% per year. There are many fossil fuels required to make our devices and maintain the services that we use. Its a good job the “cloud” we upload all our data to is invisible, if visible it would be a thick, grey, choking smog that we increase the size of every day. So what is the cause of all this? The same as all other forms of pollution in the world: us.

Trends + Greed = Digital Pollution

That shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. How many forms of pollution is humanity not responsible for? But in terms of Digital Pollution, what is the main cause? Again, the root cause of all forms of pollution: our greed. There is a reason greed is one of the 7 deadly sins; we’ve been killing our planet with it for centuries now. The majority of it comes down to what is new and “trending” and society’s unhealthy obsession with having the next best thing.

In some cases we even judge each other on the possessions we have. For example: if you have an older model of a phone or do not have the latest games console people judge you on your social status and these judgments can be cruel. This is especially prominent in children and teenagers; they put pressure on their parents to buy them the latest digital gadget to maintain or increase their social status. And since parents don’t want their child to be bullied, they oblige. Yet just as many adults have adopted this practice of buying the newest digital developments simply because its new and “everyone wants it”, whether they need it or not.

If it ain’t Broke, Don’t Buy a New One.

Greed and the need to stay trendy compels us to continue to buy what we do not need. Apple bring out a new model of iPhone every 24 to 48 months, right now we are up to the iPhone 12. There are people who buy the newest model of iPhone as often as possible. Even those that bought a brand new iPhone XS a little over 2 years ago buy this new version, why? Their iPhone XS is still in working order so why do they need to have the latest model? Because it has one or two new features, that in the grand scheme of things are not really necessary. And the screen is slightly clearer with a marginally better quality camera. Or the simple fact that its the newest model out there and they want to show it off and look cool.

However its not just getting the newest model available that is the problem. Once again one of the 7 deadlies; gluttony, is a contributing reason why digital pollution is prominent. Apple have a plethora of products, yet most of them do the same things. There are hundreds of people out there who own an Apple MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone and an Apple Watch. Yet almost every one of those devices can do the same thing and provide the same service as the other, with only a small number of features making them different. So why on earth does one person need each of these? If you ask, the reasons will likely be quite superficial as there is no plausible reason to buy a new digital device for something that can be done with a device you already own. And again it comes down to greed and gluttony.

So why does all this have an impact on digital pollution? Simple where do you think your old devices go when you have replaced them with newer ones? And for anyone who thinks they are being good by giving them to a family member, selling them online or giving them to a second-hand shop, I hate to burst your bubble but that makes little difference. As the phone you’re giving to someone else will be simply replacing a older device of theirs. That iPhone XR you’ve given away is likely replacing an iPhone 6 which will have to be thrown away. And it is the combination of fossil fuels used to make these devices that is having a disastrous effect on the environment.

Now consumers are not totally to blame for this. There are big companies out there who design their devices to decrease capability after a certain length of time. This then forces consumers to buy newer devices, so large corporations do need to do their part to stop this. However, if you have a perfectly functional iPhone X there’s no reason to buy an iPhone 12, none whatsoever. And if you chose to do this, you are part of a growing problem that is having disastrous consequences for the environment. If you don’t need it, do not buy it, it is as simple as that.

Netflix and… pollute?

Its not just the over consumption of digital devices that is the issue. In fact the much larger issue is the consumption of online videos. Online video, generates 60% of of world data flows and thus over 300 million tons of CO2 per year. It represents 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions of all digital devices (use and production included), and 1% of global emissions. This is largely down to the usage of streaming services such as Netflix, which makes up 34% of the 60%. This research was conducted in 2019 and taking the pandemic into account, these will likely have increased dramatically over the last year.

We use these services without thinking, they are just there. We sometimes have Netflix or NowTV on in the background while we do other things. Or perhaps spend countless hours browsing through YouTube videos just for something to do. It would be hypocritical if I did not admit to being guilty of this. I watch videos on YouTube that I am only mildly interested in and do not really care about. I have had Netflix playing in the background while I work because I like the background noise. We have become drunk on these streaming services when once again, in reality we do not need them! There are alternatives that predate these services that could lesson the impact they are having on the environment.

Many online streaming services lure in subscribers by promoting a popular series or film. Yet we don’t have to sign up to a monthly streaming service for this. If you love Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead and want to watch them, go out and buy the DVD boxset. Remember DVD’s? They’re far cheaper in the long run and you can still watch them whenever you want. They also have far less of an impact on the environment than streaming services. Once again though, the service providers are equally to blame. They make some series’ exclusive to their service and do not make physical copies available. Yet turning back to DVDs is a change we should all consider. Once we do this companies will have no choice but to make more available to make the required sales.

What is the Solution to Digital Pollution? We don’t know.

Some edits in behaviours towards digital have been mentioned above. And these will definitely help lesson the impact Digital Pollution has and we should absolutely try to adopt these mindsets. However, they alone will not solve the problem. So what is the overall solution to this growing problem? The scary truth is we don’t know.

This is the digital age we’re living in and the fact is we have become completely dependant on digital technology. The last 13 months has proven that without a shadow of doubt. And in many way we have to be grateful in that regard. Digital devices have saved lives during this pandemic, there is no arguing that. Isolation would have meant something entirely different without the ability to communicate digitally or have access to certain online services. It has been hard enough with them, so the thought of living without them in the same manner is a terrifying thought.

But that doesn’t change the damage that this industry is doing to our planet. And the fact that there is no clear solution to stop this has to mean something. We need to come up with ways of making tech Green, so that further digitalization is sustainable. Right now it isn’t and we cannot ignore that, the facts must hit home. We have already done enough damage to the eco system throughout the centuries in one form or another. The difference is we didn’t know it then, we do now so there is no excuse. We need to make changes and develop solutions now. Make technology green and halt digital pollution in its tracks.

To hit home just how reliant society is on digital, check out this piece on the digital skills gap. And perhaps we should now ask ourselves if green tech awareness should be incorporated into these skills?

Categories
Equality and Diversity

International Women’s Day: 10 Inspirational Women

What it makes Inspirational Women?

There has been something of a women’s revolution going on in society. Inspirational women are stepping forward and speaking out on a united front. To abolish stigmas, gender pay gaps and recognise how strong, smart, and savvy women are.

In honour and recognition of International Women’s Day 2021, we will be looking at some powerful and inspirational women; historical figures and current trail blazers. The Find Your Flex team have put forward their candidates for women who deserve recognition.

1: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: The first woman in Britain to become a doctor
(Image Credit: The Telegraph/Holly Godfrey)

A woman who punched the glass ceiling until it shattered. No matter how many times the institutions and government of her time tried to reinforce it. In the early 19th century there were few roles for women to fill in life. In the 1800’s, a woman’s the best lot in life was to make an agreeable marriage. Living life as a wife, mother and lady of leisure. For Elizabeth Garrett Anderson this was nowhere near enough. Believing that if her education was as good as any man’s, she should could enter the same profession.

Anderson’s dream was to become a doctor, something unheard of in Britain during those days. This didn’t stop her from going down every avenue to get there. After exploiting to legal technicalities, the institution amended rules so no woman could do the same. Setting her own rules, Anderson opened her own hospital. As an added gesture of defiance had it staffed solely by women. Anderson became the first practicing female doctor in British history.


Thanks to her tenacity, the rules were changed to allow women in Britain to become doctors. Anderson would achieve another first, after retirement she became mayor of Aldeburgh. The first woman in British history to become a mayor. Anderson was a staunch supporter of the suffragette movement. Her own daughter (no doubt in part due to having such an inspiring mother) was a prominent figure. Anderson’s refusal to back down helped to break the mould of what women could achieve.

2: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton Continues to Be the Hero of 2020
(Image Credit: Vanity Fair/Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

If you call Dolly Parton a legend of country music, you’d be right, but that would be such a small tip of the iceberg. She travelled to Nashville ‘the home of country music’, at the young age of 18. She used irony, stereotypes and her looks to get her foot in the door. But once inside, she used her personality to slam it behind her.

In looks Parton fit the mould of what it meant to be a female country singer. In personality she broke it into pieces. Dolly used irony to her advantage. While portraying a stylish, busty blonde, her music was attacking stereotypes. Her first chart record was “Dumb Blonde” took clear shots at misogynistic views on women. Many of Dolly’s songs had subliminal messages about the strength of women. Though in 1966, the was nothing subtle about a song she released called “Just Because I’m a Woman”. The song she challenged double-standards, calling out how poorly men can treat women and get away with it.

Despite clear implications of her music, Parton remained ambiguous about her views on feminism. Parton became one of the most globally recognised music stars of all time and in many ways does not get the credit she deserves. She was challenging female stereotypes and gender double standards during risky periods. Dolly Parton is not just an inspirational woman in music. But an inspirational woman period.

3: Anita Roddick

Image
(Image Credit: Twitter @TheBodyShop)

Anita Roddick is an inspiring business woman and entrepreneur who founded The Body Shop. She was humble, claiming that certain things happened by accident and led to success. Yet those inspired by her can see that she had the business savvy to capitalise on these “accidents”. She was an understated figure of female empowerment. Recognised for this, she was awarded the 1991 World Vision Award for Development Initiative.

Roddick had the vision to look at the long term implications of her business decisions. When she sold Body Shop to L’Oréal, she faced some harsh criticism. At the time reports suggested they used animal testing. Something Roddick claimed to be against. Her response was that she likened them move to being like ‘Trojan Horse’. She would have an input on the company’s decisions, as would the suppliers of Body Shop. This proved to be true. L’Oréal currently claim to be world leaders in abolishing animal testing. Something Roddick may be directly or indirectly responsible for.

Roddick was also a notable activist and philanthropist, involved in many charities. She founded Children on the Edge (COTE). Aiding overcrowded conditions in orphanages dealing with catastrophic issues. Roddick became an advocate for people suffering with Hepatitis C, as she too suffered from this disease. Upon her death she reportedly donated the entirety of her fortune to charity. Anita Roddick was pinnacle of what it mean to be a great business woman. One who gives back, any young aspiring entrepreneur should take inspiration from her.

4: Serena Williams

Serena Williams played in the Yarra Valley Classic as a tuneup to the Australian Open.
(Image Credit: The New York Times/David Gray/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Serena Williams is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, breaking and setting records. Williams has broken down race and gender barriers through her passion and outspoken persona. From a young age she faced racism, her father was protective over her and her sister Venus on this matter. Racial discrimination continued throughout her adult career. Her gender was also a point of contention as the world of tennis was a white male dominated world.

Serena was criticized for her cultural hair style and faced many other derogatory comments early on. Serena along with her father and sister, boycotted the Indian Wells when her family received racial abuse. She openly challenges officials for sexist discrimination and is often outspoken. She has done a lot to empower women. Inspiring them to push themselves in athletic professions and shedding light on the significant gender pay gap in most sports. Serena is a trail blazer in shattering the idea of a what a woman is “supposed to look like”. Abolishing the image of what conventional beauty is.

She has done much to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Vocalising personal concerns and what needs to change. Williams has stood up for the LGBT community. When other members of her profession have made disparaging remarks. She used her personal successes to abolish gender pay gaps and to push for more equality across the board. This included becoming one of the highest paid athletes in the world two years in a row through sponsorships. Owing to her immense popularity as a female role model, in any list of inspirational women, Serena Williams stands out.

5: Tanni Grey-Thompson

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson career in pictures
(Image Credit: The Telegraph)

Its one thing to make such a long lasting mark in sports. But to go on to a career in politics and make your mark defines inspirational women. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is one such woman, born with spina bifida and requiring a wheelchair. Grey-Thompson would go on to become one of the most accomplished disabled athletes in the UK. Grey-Thompson achieved a BA (Hons) Degree in Politics and Social Administration. She would return to the subject of her degree later on in life, after making an impact in athletics.

Tanni would start her Paralympic career at the Junior National Games for Wales in 1984. Grey-Thompson became an inspiration to women and people suffering with disabilities. She won 16 Paralympic medals, 11 of which were gold. She held 30 track world records during her time competing in both 100m and 400m. Grey-Thompson’s last Paralympic Games were in Athens in 2004.

She has won many awards including being voted UK Sporting Hero by UK sports. Grey-Thompson returned to her academic routes, becoming an Independent Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. Aside from her role in sport and in politics, Grey-Thompson is involved with many charities. Being an advocate for disabled people in sports, using her own success to inspire others. She made an impact in the world of sports. And to transition from that into the daunting world of politics is beyond admirable.

6: Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai discusses depression and Dr. Seuss with Teen Vogue
(Image Credit: The New York Post/Getty Images)

There are still countries where women are confined to only having children and being wives. Malala Yousafzai was only a child when she began speaking out for women’s rights in Pakistan. Malala’s unyielding bravery brought her a lot of media attention. She gave interviews to both the BBC and the New York Times. She became so notable she was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize.

At the age of 15, on her way home from school on the bus a gunman for the Taliban boarded the vehicle. Malala was shot in the head and left in a critical condition. She was sent to the Quean Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and would go on to make a full recovery. The attack resulted in the United Nations denouncing and condemning the Taliban. The attempt to silence her only strengthened Yousafzai’s resolve. She continued to speak out and raise awareness. After her recovery, she studied at Oxford University. Earning a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economy.

In 2014 she became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She brought awareness to the fact that in some parts of the world girls and women are no were near able fight for equal pay and recognition. Because they are still in the midst of fighting for basic human rights that we all take for granted. There are many inspirational women throughout history who deserve recognition. Malala Yousafzai will go down as one of the greatest activists in history.

7: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks
(Image Credit: thoughtco.com/William Philpott/Getty Images)

In the world of figures that cultivated change, a name than cannot go unmentioned is Rosa Parks. Children today are taught about the brave, young woman who faced extreme racial discrimination. And refused to vacate her seat on the bus for a white person. Parks would become one of the most prominent figures in history. She was part of the civil rights movement, along with Martin Luther King Jr..

Her actions led to the Montgomery bus boycott. Where people of colour refused to use bus services in Montgomery for over a year. Rosa’s arrest would lead to the abolishment of bus segregation laws. This would have greater implications moving forward. Segregation was prominent in Alabama in the 1950’s. Furthermore, Rosa’s defiance was even more frowned upon due the fact that she was a woman. Its hard to believe that this event only happened 7 decades ago. As the years go on Rosa’s actions receive more recognition for the chain of events they led to. Rosa remained a part of the “Black Power” movement and continued to speak out for equal rights.

However, Rosa’s life after the event only became more difficult. She lost her job as a result of her arrest and began receiving death threats because of it. The long term implications of Park’s actions would come to fruition in later years. Despite this, Rosa remained outspoken about the need for further justice and change. Sadly, Rosa was correct in this regard, as the fight against racial discrimination goes on. Though, Rosa’s legacy gives strength and resolve to those continuing the fight. Without her actions the fight would be that much harder. Without a doubt, someone who stands up for themselves and others in the face of extreme adversity is an inspirational woman indeed.

8: Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey prepares for a title fight against Sara McMann in Las Vegas in February. The UFC star scored a disabling knee to McMann's gut for a TKO 66 seconds into their fight.
(Image Credit: Isaac Brekken/Associated Press)

There is an argument that the woman responsible for changing the gender imbalance in combat sports is Ronda Rousey. Ronda began a judo career and proved successful. Rousey became the first American to win a medal in judo since its inception at the Olympics. She began training in Mixed Martial Arts. The powers that be declared that no one wanted to watch two women legitimately trying to hurt each other in MMA. But with women in other sports becoming more polarizing. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) realised they needed to make a change.

The first female signee was Ronda Rousey. She became the inaugural UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Rousey participated in the first UFC female fight in history. She would remain undefeated for years, gaining global popularity. During this time, Rousey was voted the best female athlete of all-time in a 2015 ESPN fan poll. After Rousey lost for the first time and again in her returning rematch, she retired. She was the first female inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018.

In 2015, WWE began evolving its women’s division to focus more on wrestling rather than looks. Many believed that Rousey’s success in UFC was a large part of inciting this change in wrestling. Rousey began competing in WWE in 2018. She would feature in the first ever women’s main event in Wrestlemania history. Ronda has broken down many barriers for women in sports, earning many “firsts” for women. She has spoken about how she suffered with body image as a child. Bullied for looking too masculine due to her athletic physique and interest in video games. Many have credited Ronda as being one of the driving forces for change in women receiving equal recognition to men. Proving herself a force to be reckoned with and can be proud to know she is one of societies most inspirational women.

9: Bethenny Frankel

Skinnygirl CEO Bethenny Frankel uses Real Housewives for brand empire
(Image Credit: businessinsider.com/Richard Feloni and Sarah Wyman)

Most people reading this may recognise the name Bethenny Frankel as one of The Real Housewives of New York City. Bethenny had a mentally abusive mother who had a physically abusive relationship with her step-father. Bethenny would leave home and moved to Los Angeles with one goal: to become a success. She worked as a nanny for Paris Hilton before becoming the personal assistant of Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer. After this she started her own baked goods business. When the Bravo network contacted her to be part of RHONYC, she saw an opportunity to promote her business.

Bethenny became a fan favourite for her blunt, snarky, charismatic attitude. She was unafraid to laugh at herself, while equally unafraid to call people out. During this time Frankel created the ‘Skinnygirl Margarita’. A move that would have major implications for her. Frankel published several books and was offered her own spin-off and talk shows. Bethenny launched the first ever low-calorie cocktail line branded Skinnygirl Cocktails. Through partnerships, she grew the line to include other alcoholic beverages, foods and apparels.

Suffering mental and emotional abuse throughout her divorce. Her experiences would lead her to found Bstrong. A charity providing financial support for women that feel trapped in abusive situations. When Frankel saw the devastation caused by natural disasters, she raised millions. Travelling to destinations such as Houston, Mexico City and Puerto Rico. Bethenny Frankel ticks all the boxes of what it means to be strong in the list of inspirational women. Someone who has suffered abuse, became a successful business woman and given back to people less fortunate than herself.

10: Rose McGowan

American actress Rose McGowan has been indicted by the US court for possession of cocaine
(Image Credit: Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

One of the biggest movements began when women stepped forward revealing the corruption and abuse of Hollywood. The most notable case involved then movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Rose McGowan was one of the “Silence Breakers” to step forward and accuse Weinstein of rape. McGowan’s first notable appearance was in the horror film Scream. She starred in some other notable films. In 1997, she was recommended to Weinstein and an encounter took place in which she was sexually assaulted.

In 2017, a story broke in the New York times. Many well-known figures in the film industry, accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The number would grow to over 100 people and McGowan’s voice was one of the loudest. These events would lead to the MeToo movement. A massive global movement that encouraged victims of sexual abuse to step forward and call out the perpetrators. Rose would continue to bring awareness to the corruption of Hollywood. Calling out other industry figures for being complacent and looking the other way.

McGowan became an outspoken activist for LGBT and women’s rights. She shaved her long hair. Stating the image of conventual beauty depicted by Hollywood needed abolishing. That women should perpetuate their individual beauty. She has published her auto-biography Brave detailing her experiences. One thing is without dispute, Rose McGowan is the pinnacle of what brave, inspirational women are. One who refuses to fall in line and be silenced. By those who think they will always get away with it because of their gender and position.

Inspirational Women, Honourable Mentions:

Audrey Hepburn – Hepburn was a notable actress in the 1950s onwards. As a child she survived Nazi occupied Holland. She became a globally recognised actress. She did a lot for charity. Hepburn travelled to third world countries to meet underprivileged people and raise awareness

Kelly Hoppen – Hoppen is a notable business woman how began a career as an interior designer at the young age of 16. She built her empire and would go on to design home, yachts and private jets for celebrities and high-end clients. She would be a ‘Dragon’ on the show Dragons Den. Helping to support small businesses through investing and mentoring.


Amelia Sordell – “I am a boss. Not a girl boss. I am an entrepreneur. Not a female entrepreneur. I am a business owner. Not a woman in business. The sooner we drop gender from these phrases the better. Maybe we should start calling people ‘Male Entrepreneurs’ and ‘Boy Bosses’ to see how stupid it sounds.”.

There are many more inspirational women, past and present. These inspirational women have made a difference either by actively seeking change or achieving it through their personal success. We honour all women on International Women’s Day 2021. Which strong, brave, clever, tenacious woman do you take inspiration from?

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Students and Graduates

The Apprenticeship Route: Why it is a smart choice

The Apprenticeship route is a path to employment that has been around for decades. Despite many positive attributes, apprenticeships have almost become a second class career path. Taking a backseat to other means of gaining employment. This blog post will be looking at some disillusioned stigmas associated with apprenticeships. And why currently it is one of the smartest routes to take to gaining employment.

Are schools diverting traffic from the Apprenticeship Route?

In 2019 I conducted a survey within high schools with students and teachers as part of my internship. To find out which routes to employment they were most encouraged to take. The results were that the majority of students found apprenticeships appealing. Yet only a minority would actually choose this route. Students felt they did not have enough accessible information on apprenticeships.

The teachers’ survey yielded similar results. They claimed that the majority of students go to university. The teachers also admitted that there is ‘sometimes’ a stigma with other post-education career paths. They did say these attitudes are changing, but felt the other career paths are not as encouraged as university. Many said there could be more accessible information within schools on the apprenticeship route.

The results showed schools encourage the university route more than other career paths. A general comment made by teachers is that views on the apprenticeship route are changing and becoming more positive. Yet, that implies it is changing from a negative view, which should never have become prominent in the first place. One thing is clear, schools need to provide more encouragement and accessible information on apprenticeships. To do otherwise if depriving students of opportunities that could potentially lead to a fulfilling career.

The Impact of Parental Views on Apprenticeships

Parents want what is best for their children, it is their innate priority. And for a lot of young people, family opinions/encouragement is what impact’s their decisions the most. Parents can often map out their child’s career journey before they can even walk. Could pre-existing bias or misconceptions of post-education routes be impacting their children’s choices?

A survey on Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes relating to careers advice and guidance, was conducted Island between September 2019 and February 2020. Statistics showed that over two thirds (68%) of pupils agreed their family encouraged them to go to university. 2% more than the number of students who agreed it was their own choice to go to university. These statistics are worrying. Showing that parent encouragement of the university path could be detracting from the number of children choosing other (just as successful) routes to employment.

This shows a bias towards the university route. It’s clear the majority of parents think that university is the best path their child can take. They should focus on what career their child is pursuing. As the university route is not always the best way to get there. For many parents, their proudest moment was when their child received their degree. And they should be proud, that is an amazing achievement. However they also need to keep their priorities straight; which is more important? That framed cap and degree, while their child is upstairs on their computer struggling to find work? Or the knowledge that their child has a fulfilling career and were encouraged to choose the best means to get there? Parents must not let misconceived bias and pride derail them from doing what is best for their child’s future.

The Apprenticeship Route vs The University Route

Every job role is subjective; some require certain routes to get there. This section is less about deciding which route is better and more about creating a level playing field. It is true that there are many pros to going to university. Yet there are more than a few cons too. And it is a fact that apprenticeships do not have these same cons.

Certain job roles specify that they want a degree in the field. However, to some employers its does not mean that much. University is expensive, often new students have to borrow the money to go to university. You are essentially in debt before you have even gotten into a full time career. Also you are giving up three or more years of your life to studying. There may be less time consuming routes that lead to the same outcome. There is a level of exclusivity to some courses; they can be difficult to get into. You may find yourself a few points shy of the minimum and unable to get onto the course you want. An apprenticeship can be a worthwhile alternative.

You don’t pay to do for the apprenticeship route, you get paid. Although payment is the least you get out of an apprenticeship. What is more important is the experience you will gain. Employers are becoming as interested in experience as they are in a high level qualification. You may be able to do work placements and voluntary work while in university. But won’t gain as much experience as the full specified training while doing an apprenticeship. Some employers conducting apprenticeships tend to take on once they have achieved that qualification. As they have spent time and money training someone how to do a job and to do it well. No route is better than the other, they are equally beneficial. But you may find one will yield results more than the other depending on the job role you’re aiming for. 

The Flexible Route

It is important to point out that more young people require flexible working hours and study time. They could be young parents. Or have relatives they need to look after or have physical or mental health needs that need catering too. There is a stigma that flexible working is primarily reserved for single mums or people over a certain age. However on, Find Your Flex, 47% of flexible job seekers using the site are male and around 60% report they don’t have children or their children are aged 17+. So no one should make this assumption. Everyone should be entitled to flexible working and young people are no exception, the same goes for their post-education routes. Is it fair that a young person cannot gain a higher qualification because they may have to look after an unwell relative? Of course not. Which is why apprenticeship providers, universities and employers need to begin making changes. To incorporate not only flexible working but flexible study into their courses.

Covid-19 has shown us how vital this is. In the face of the greatest threat of our generation, we have had to make changes. Yet we shouldn’t have had to adapt as much as we have. If society made changes to incorporate flexible working and study before this pandemic, not as many people would have suffered. We wouldn’t have has such a drop in grades and rise in unemployment. When we return to normality, we cannot forget the lessons it taught us. We cannot throw away the importance of flexible working and study; we cannot make the same mistakes twice.  

The rise of the Apprenticeship Route

Find Your Flex has been on this mission long before Covid. Yet we will continue to ensure flexible apprenticeships continue long after the fight against this virus is won. Visit out apprenticeship hub: at https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/apprentice-hub to find out more. We work with organisations that are making the significant changes to ensure that flexible working is available for everyone. If this encompasses you, do not hesitate to look at our apprenticeships. As you may find the perfect apprenticeship for you that will lead to that job you are striving towards.

The apprenticeship route isn’t exclusively for school leavers either, it is available for anyone older than that. Even graduates, don’t assume that because you chose to do a degree that you cannot or should not consider the apprenticeship route. If you find yourself struggling to enter the field you want, an apprenticeship could be the perfect way in. For more advice on what graduates can do or should not do to gain a career after graduating, have a read of this blog post: After Graduating: Getting that first step on the job ladder

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Careers Students and Graduates

After Graduating: Getting that first step on the job ladder

The first thing on a graduates mind when leaving university is getting their dream job. Yet, this is not as easy as it seems. This blog post we will discuss steps graduates should take both during and after graduating to get that first step on the job ladder.

Do more than study hard.

It can seem logical while in university to put your entire focus on your studies and nothing else. This way you come out with the best degree. That should grab an employer’s attention, showing them you are hardworking, dedicated and know your stuff right?

No. That may seem blunt, but it is important to rid yourself of that style of thinking as it is self-sabotage. Yes, you should put as much effort as you can into achieving the best grade possible. But your degree alone will not get you your dream job.

This doesn’t make your degree is any less valuable and it will still count for something when an employer is looking at your CV.

The Paradox of Experience.

There is a lot of competition for job roles out there and for employers their main focus is one word. If you haven’t got it, it can become public enemy number one when trying to secure a decent job role in your desired field. That word/attribute is; experience.

This is becoming an all too essential requirement in job descriptions these days. It can lead to hair pulling frustration for graduates when reading job descriptions. You have all the knowledge and skills, then the bottom of the page and it reads: “A minimum of 1 years experience required”.

For graduates experiencing this first hand, you realise the paradox you are presented with. How can you gain experience for a job if you can’t get a job to gain the experience?

Overcome this barrier (early on).

The answers are hard to swallow for those who are looking for work after graduating. It is important to gain access to these while still studying. The best way to gain experience is through securing work placements, internships or voluntary work.

Most of these will take up a decent amount of your free time and most of these positions are unpaid. Yet, you will find that in the long run the experience you gain from these opportunities is worth far more than any wages the company would pay. The more experience you have on your CV the better.

Though you should do this after graduating, it would be better to secure this kind of work while studying. Most universities have resources or facilitators that can help to secure these roles. Don’t let experience become the biggest road block on your career journey; it can be a difficult one to overcome.

Apprenticeships After Graduating

For a graduate fresh out of university, their primary goal is full time employment. Though as discussed before, a degree isn’t a guarantee that you will secure a role, especially in the field you are aiming for. Even experience through work placements and voluntary work may not be enough.

If you have a specific job in mind, the internship/apprenticeship route might be the best option to get you there. For some graduates this can be frustrating, apprenticeships can feel like a career path that you choose instead of university. This is not the case, from 2017 to 2018, a 34.37% majority of apprentices in the UK were aged between 19-24, a further 18.55% being 25-34 year olds.

Apprenticeships have their own advantages that can be used in conjunction with the knowledge you gained from your degree. They answer key parts of job descriptions. Tending to be more specified to roles and they answer that experience need. With an apprenticeship you learn the job while doing the job, which is becoming more and more appealing to employers.

 See an opportunity for what it is.

It is important graduates don’t let preconceived views of apprenticeships deter them. There is no reason why you shouldn’t seek to gain an extra qualification; it makes your CV look better not worse. Society has made university the more encouraged path of higher education for years. The truth of matter is, apprenticeships are equally rewarding in terms of gaining employment.

This is a stigma that is changing, so don’t let this influence you when deciding whether to go down this route. It is understandable that beginning an apprenticeship after graduating from years of study can feel like spending more time in education. A frustration to some who hoped to be done with education and want to start work.

However, with an apprenticeship you are working. And your getting paid to learn the job whilst you are in it, so it is not the same. There is also unavoidable factor that with some companies it is the best/only way in. If in the end it gets you the dream job you’ve always wanted, why wouldn’t you take this opportunity that lies before you?

Don’t limit yourself.

Do not place restrictions on yourself while looking for work. You may have secured your degree in your chosen subject with one specific job in mind. Yet, the chances of you walking straight into that job after graduating, are slim to none.

This of course depends on what your personal dream job is. If it requires a certain level of experience, you need to lower your expectations. Some employers want to see your skills and experience demonstrated in another role. They may see potential in graduates, but sometimes they want more than that. You must also be prepared.

If you are adamant about only applying for one specific type of job, you are limiting the number of opportunities that will come your way. What if the job you want isn’t out there right now? If you do nothing else in the meantime, you’re even less likely to secure that role when it does appear. Those gaps in your CV don’t go unnoticed.

Be Flexible in your choices.

There is no reason why you can’t get a different job in the same sector your desired job is in. You will gain invaluable skills and experience which can only benefit you. Employers will be drawn to fact that you have spent time working in the industry and will have an idea of how things work.

Though, you should still not rule out working in a different industry than the one you are aiming for. A diverse knowledge and skill set will look impressive on your CV. When applying for other roles you can make these transferable to said role. Employers will see you as versatile, someone who is looking to develop a broad skill set which can be appealing to them.

The Job for you is not always the Job you want.

There is a personal aspect to keep in mind, it’s a bit cliché, but it rings true; when job searching after graduating, be careful what you wish for. Gearing your education and focus towards a certain job, that does not mean it will be what you thought if/when you get it.

That may sound negative, and an attempt dissuade you from your dreams, but that’s not the case at all. It means you may think a certain job is perfect for you and when you finally get into it, it doesn’t fit you as well as you might have thought.

Which is why it’s important to pursue other job opportunities. You may find that a job you were not dreaming of, is more comfortable and rewarding than the one you were aiming for.

Where to look?

Finally, it’s important to use every resource out there to gain employment. Don’t just think indeed and total jobs are your only options. Check company websites, jobs boards and that ever growing behemoth social media.

There are job boards that target specific niche target audiences. Don’t avoid these if you feel you don’t fall into that category, you might find a job you know you can do well, so go for it!

Your career journey begins after graduating. And there are infinite roads with their own twists and turns. Don’t be afraid to divert from you planned course to explore them, you may find it suits your far better!

You can start by looking here: https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/jobs/

Here’s another blog advising how to create a good Linkedin Profile: Top 10 Tips for a Compelling LinkedIn Profile