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Tech Skills and Flexible Working

From FREE tech bootcamps to employment brilliance……………….

Skills City & Host Manchester are hosting tech courses, fully funded by the Department for Education, to empower women in the North West to find inspiring flexible careers and to help level the playing field when it comes to gender equality.

Find Your Flex is partnering with Skills City and Host in Media City, in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, to help women in this region to gain qualifications and new skills and to turbocharge female representation in the tech industry. For some of the courses, no experience is required. We know that women have the ability to be the future leaders in tech.

What do you want to be?

This general question is asked of girls when they grow up and again as women later in life. The answers may be limited and gender-bound.

Today we can ask any gender, very different questions.

Would you like to become a cyber analyst and protect society and your family from the rise of cyber-fraud?

Perhaps you are excited about building your own app or software to launch that brilliant new business idea you have?

Are you a creative graphic designer with 3D skills that you would like to take to the new level? Perhaps you want to work for a company that didn’t exist 10 years ago but has since revolutionised TV & Film and soon to do the same with Gaming? Ever fancied a career at Netflix?

If so, the opportunity is right here to take that step forward and realise your aspirations. Skills City will give you the tools, the support and the confidence to forge a fascinating career.

Women in tech

The statistics in tech are dismaying – it’s male dominated with a low percentage of engagement from women. Just 19% of the UK tech workforce is female.

Why aren’t there more women in tech in 2021?

It starts early when girls are given dolls to play with whilst boys have Meccano sets to build and create models. These boys may have grown up to become men who believe they can build and create. They feel confident of their ability to build ‘stuff’.

Women are fed a narrative that focuses on being caring and nurturing and capable of organising a household. Then as adults we face guilt about being a working mother (the motherly stereotype most 30-something plus women today witnessed didn’t include Mothers handling Zoom meetings, deadlines and a toddler under their feet. We’ve grown up believing we are particularly suited to certain ‘types’ of employment.

But the reality is that women have many qualities that are well suited to a tech career.

Intelligent and probing minds, a love of problem solving, strategic thinking and a laser focus on finding solutions and the art of collaboration.

It’s time tech truly tapped into female potential

Our current world has been built by men for men – and it’s time for change!

Digital technology is critical to all our lives in terms of access to education, culture, health, leisure, employment and entrepreneurship.

But that world so far has been largely built by men without the full and necessary input of the other 50% of our population.

Unicef, highlighting the gender digital divide, states that digital products and services need to be designed for women as well, instead of using the male view of systems and tech platforms, as the gender default.

As Unicef continues, “women are left out of co-creation, design and product testing.”

We need diversity at all levels, to address this fundamental problem.

Our world is changing.

Do you want to be a part of shaping it to be more gender neutral and fair?

You don’t need a stellar academic education or be the next tech whizz kid.

You just need to have an interest in the new opportunities inspired by tech – honestly there’s nothing more to it.

Tech as a game changer

Tech’s importance as the largest game-changer in terms of its ability improve the way we live, work and become available to more opportunities is exponential.

Jobs that historically have required the human touch (retail, hospitality, customer services, sales) are increasingly becoming automated and that rise is inexorable.

We need all pivot to some degree if we are to have the tools we require for our future world of work, and the way we interact and flourish within in it.

The aim of the Skills City initiative is to ensure that women from all backgrounds are trained up and fired up to access a wealth of opportunities to get fulfilling and flexible employment.

Tech is not only a game changer in how we interact with digital products.

It is a social game changer too.

There is huge scope for people from non-traditional backgrounds to take a leap forward in terms of earnings potential.

Jobs are well paid (mid tech is around £40k-60k) and this can help narrow the gender pay gap.

It’s an amazing chance for women retuning to the workplace after a career break and offers a myriad of opportunities for people with disabilities as remote working can be the norm.

Opportunity knocks

Women are just as capable as men with dealing STEM but are less likely to engage in that field in the first place. A lack of familiarity of what opportunities are out there may be a factor. There may be a presumption of a lack of flexibility in work patters. A dearth of confidence to participate in a male-dominated industry may also play a role.

That needs to change.

We would say take every chance you are given to find out because your perfect career may be waiting for you to discover it. The demand is there, the jobs are there, now we need trained human input. That person could be you and you could be more suited to a career in tech than you may initially assume. This is why government is running courses like this with the aim of make a social shift in how women approach tech.

Being a cyber analyst, for example, is about much more than sitting with a keyboard. It is about protecting people, often those whom we care about most. Cyberfraud is on in the increase, as is hacking, scamming and cyber-bullying. Our personal data and our finances are at risk and need continual protection. Women are just as capable as men of providing that sword and that shield.

Flex your tech

The rise of tech can also be linked to the rise in flexible working.

Set aside the stereotype of inflexible hours.

You are not bound to a particular location or to a designated 9-5, clock-on and clock-on regime. There is scope for you to mould your work around the rest of your life. This is particularly helpful for women who bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to housekeeping, childcare and caring for elderly relatives.

Before you now lies a fascinating chance to create a balanced life.

As the Harvard Business Review points out It’s a chance for women to shape the communities and world that we live in. It’s a chance for women’s voices to be heard and to be united, and to for their skills to be utilised to the full extent and capabilities. Tech has removed many physical and psychological barriers to employment.

Once you have the skills you need, there are incredible job opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

What are you waiting for? Pull on your boots and get Skilled-up at the camp.

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Flexible Working Future of work Students and Graduates

Flexible Working: A Youth-Centred Approach to the Future

Oh to be in the flush of youth – light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, single (or at least on Tindr). With so many advantages, it is often assumed that flexible working is not much of a need or concern for the fresh-faced who are still in their salad days. Yet, those just starting out in life face a myriad of issues for which agile work formats can provide a solution.

Student Costs

Tuition fees are high, upwards of £9,000 and repayable with interest. Added to the cost of living away from home, many students are saddled with debt that they will spend perhaps decades paying off. Even the maintenance living grants are often not sufficient to cover the basics. “For many, wages from part-time work are the only way students can make ends meet,” states Sir Peter Lampl of The Sutton Trust.

Juggling intellectually strenuous courses with part-time jobs is not an easy balance to pull off. But without flexible work, many people simply could not afford a tertiary or further education. When we leave people unable to improve themselves and their prospects, both our society and our economy suffer. Flex is key to this.

Flexible Internships

To get work experience, you need work experience. It’s the circular system that holds many people back. Internships are difficult to get in the first place, as many seem to come through word-of-mouth, family connections or privileged social networks. There does not seem to be enough internships to go around.

A more radical idea would be to introduce job-share internships, with each person doing 2.5 days per week. Doubtless this would require careful management, especially when it comes to handovers. But it is a possible option that would mean that double the number of people would gain at least some experience and something to put on their CVs to move their careers forward. Businesses would, in turn, get the benefit of having more people to assess for specific roles.

Neurodiversity

Youth seems to be the most care-free time of our life but the statistics on the incidence of mental health do not relate merely to those who are older. But making small change can have a significant impact. For example, a person with depression (which can often be worse in the morning) who is allowed to come into work at 10am and work later in the day can get a job and can keep that job. Employed, contributing, paying tax – this is what young people can have if reasonable adjustments are made to their particular situation.

If you want to find out more about what neurodiverse people can do if businesses provide the right working conditions and flexible working opportunities, check out our piece that expands on this subject.

Carer Responsibilities

Many young people take care of elderly relatives at home. By assuming such duties, they save the taxpayer huge amounts of money, thus shouldering up an already creaking and under-resourced care system. But this can only be fair if the carer has some opportunity to work flexibly around these responsibilities.

The consequences of removing flexible working from the equation are two-fold. First, whilst taking on such caring tasks is humane, worthwhile and honourable, it leaves the carer with little else to put on their CV. This in turn limits the kinds of roles young carers can apply for. Secondly, carers may become trapped in a system of living on carer-related benefits because of their limited skills. Young people have dreams – and should be given an opportunity to accomplish them. Flexible working allows the possibility both for caring and for young people to fulfill their aspirations and potential.

Young people are our future world. So, it’s really never too early to enter flexible working.

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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