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Careers Industry Flexers Technology Industry

The Step Into Tech Programme – Women In Technology

An Interview with Sue Mosley, HR Business Partner BBC, Design & Engineering.

The Women ‘Stepping Into Tech’

The Step Into Tech Programme focuses on getting more women in technology careers. The pilot consisted of 14 weeks training. Including an intense week in Manchester, one evening per week in Manchester and additional home learning with support. The course was part time. Programme two is underway attracting around 900 applicants from London alone.

We love to celebrate the organisations who are getting things right when it comes to women in technology. Sometimes organisations do get things wrong. Like so many the BBC had a significant issue with the gender pay gap. Sue Mosley tells us how the BBC have learned from findings. She talks about what they are doing to encourage more women to embark on careers in technology.

The Interview.

What were the key drivers that led to the development of the ‘Step Into Tech’ programme?

Current stats tell us that the tech industry has an average of 17% females. Software engineering is a profession that is hugely male dominated, and the UK’s is facing a digital skills crisis.

If we want to fix the skills gap, then we as organisations need to be more imaginative in the ways of attracting talent and provide opportunities for progression. We also need to ensure that we’re always striving to have as diverse a workforce as possible. We need to make sure that we continue to be creative, foster innovation and serve our diverse audience.  

The pilot programme was a huge success. What were the key findings or successes?

The success of programme one is down to so many factors. It isn’t just about running a part-time training programme. It is essential that all the participants on the programme are fully committed to learn. That they are passionate about progressing a career within the profession. The measure of success was based on who completed training and then progressed into a role within software engineering and at the BBC.

The delivery of the training had to be adaptable to everyone’s different learning styles. It was essential that the cohort felt part of the BBC throughout their training . This is instrumental in encouraging them to want to progress their careers with us! 

The BBC Step into Tech programme has 16 places. From the first assessment session of 47 shortlisted applicants, it was a real challenge to select 16. The calibre of the individuals was superb as so many of them demonstrated the attributes we were looking for. We could have quite easily run 2 programmes at the same time! 

Do you think the UK will see more programmes like ‘Step Into Tech’ over the next few years?

I’d like to think so, as there is most definitely an appetite for them.  I know of one other organisation who already run a very similar programme. Knowing how successful that programme was and consulting with them, this is really how our Step into Tech programme came about.

There is a huge appetite from individuals who clearly want to learn, develop skills and change career paths. This is a great pool of talent to tap into. The BBC and other organisations can provide those opportunities for this talent pool and help fix the digital skills crisis as well as supporting diversity initiatives.

The ‘Step Into Tech’ programme focuses on women taking their firs steps into a career in tech. What about the career returners. Those who previously found a tech career lacked the flexibility they needed or was too male dominated? Can programmes like the ‘Step Into Tech’ be replicated and adapted to suit returners?

Yes of course they can, many of the aspects on the programme also focused on personal development too. This focus proved really beneficial to some of the cohort. Especially those who were just embarking on that return to work after a career break. So long as those individuals can demonstrate they have the qualities that make a good software engineer, then the programme can suit any individual. Regardless of whether they are a career returner or otherwise, in terms of the flexibility around working.

At the BBC we have a significant number of software engineers who have flexible working. 

With technology advancing the digital skills gap is becoming a serious concern for organisations. What role do you think women have to play in filling this digital skills gap?

Women definitely have a huge role to play in helping bridge some of the digital skills gaps. Currently in the UK there are 427,000 professional women alone who want to return to work at some point. Of those women, 3 in 5 return to lower skilled or lower paid jobs following those career breaks.  Therefore, organisations need to be more creative in their approach to talent attraction. They should be open to offering re-training opportunities as well as flexible working options.

11 out of 16 women from our first Step into Tech programme secured roles in our Design + Engineering division as software engineers. All these women came from very different professions i.e. teaching, medical, admin, legal etc; and this was through the creative approach we adopted. 

Read more on the role of women in technology and closing the digital skills gap in our other post. Read about 23 Code Street and how they are teaching women to code.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Industry Flexers Technology Industry

Why Coding Makes A Great Flexible Career For Mums

Time To Consider Coding

When thinking about your flexible work options, have you ever considered coding?

You might have not heard of coding before, but you interact with code every day.

All the websites and apps you use have been built by code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give to a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone has the ability to learn to code, you don’t necessarily need to be a math genius or a ‘techie’. All you need is the motivation to learn and time to practice.

Below, are five reasons why coding makes a rewarding and flexible career.

1. Lose The 9-5 And Be In Charge Of Your Working Hours

How about no longer working 9-5?

All you need to code is a laptop and some good wifi! Many coding jobs can be done remotely either at home, in a cafe or even in another country! You can work the hours that suit you- so you’ll able to go to parent’s evening or be there for the school run. After progressing into a fully fledged developer you could work in house for a company, a web agency or as a freelancer with a range of clients that interest you.

2.  Learn An In-Demand Skill

There’s currently a huge digital skills gap; employers are looking to hire people who can code and have a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of tech jobs is increasing. This report found there are over 7 million jobs which require coding skills and programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. You’ll have a constant supply of jobs to apply for and chose from.

3.  Enjoy A Rewarding Career In Coding

Let’s be honest, not all flexible working options are rewarding. Coding definitely is.

At first learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling. You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online!

Coding With 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

4.  Make Use Of Your Whole Skill Set With Coding

Coding allows you to combine your old and new skills- so you won’t feel like your previous skills have been forgotten. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you – like problem-solving, basic maths, an eye for detail, communicating and the ability to Google!

Also learning to code can be a good way to upskill in your current profession and get a new role or promotion. For example, lots of marketers and designers are learning to code to be able to edit websites and newsletters and work alongside tech teams with confidence. By being technically skilled, this will give you a competitive edge and make you stand out to employers.

5.  Feel Empowered and Empower Others With Coding

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88% of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry, smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of girls to work in tech.

Coding Group, 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

23 Code Street is a coding school for all women. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in the slums of Mumbai.

Join their webinar course for beginners starting on the 10th July and learn to code in 12 weeks through weekly webinars in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll develop a strong foundation in web development including how to build websites and apps for the web and work on your own practical projects. The course costs £550- find out more and apply here.

If you want to learn more about women in technology, then check out our other blog posts in this series. Read about The Fourth Industrial Revolution & What It Can Offer Flexers / Career Changers / Parents.


Categories
Business Careers Technology Industry

The Flexers Who Can Help Close The Digital Skills Gap

What is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing and it’s not slowing down. But what does that mean? What is the Digital Skills Gap? What impact will it have on women, their careers and flexible working? ‘4IR’ as it’s also known is the term for the way disruptive technologies are radically changing our lives. It’s the merging of our biological, physical, digital and technological worlds. Artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, The Internet Of Things (IOT) and Virtual Reality (VR) are fast becoming an essential part of our social and economic lives. 

These changes are disrupting the business sector at an unprecedented pace. There is no denying these technologies will provide immense benefits to society. Conversely however they present huge challenges.

There is a fear that technology such as AI and robotics are replacing humans in the workplace. However, there will be strong demand for technical skills like programming, app development and skills that aren’t so easy for computers to master. Skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving and negotiating. Let’s explore this further.

The Digital Skills Gap

Here is the problem. Technology is advancing fast. Faster than many businesses can keep up with. The Digital Skills Gap is a real concern. As new categories of jobs emerge, they will partly or wholly displace others. Technology is only as good as the people developing and managing it. Businesses need to have people with the right digital skills to maintain business growth. 

Nearly 50% of companies in the WE Forum Study, expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022. 38% of businesses expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles. More than a quarter expect automation to lead to creation of new roles in their enterprise.

142,000 vacant tech jobs by 2023, 22% of which will be new types of STEM roles

A large study by EDF and the Social Market Foundation (2017) state that there will be 142,000 new jobs in science, research, engineering and technology from now until 2023. Demand for software engineers is rising quickly. Machine learning and data science fields, recorded 191% and 136% growth respectively since 2015. However another study, People Power by The City & Guilds Group (2018) found that 32% of employers struggle to recruit for specialist roles such as engineers, marketing and IT Staff, digital analysts.

The WE Forum Future Of Jobs (2018) found that technology adoption features highly in the growth strategy of companies. But the skills gap features heavily as a barrier. 

The following are considered by (2018) and The WEF Future Of Jobs (2018) to be amongst jobs with the largest hiring growth.

  • Software engineers 
  • Project managers, 
  • Marketing specialists 
  • Data Analysts and Scientists, 
  • Software and Applications Developers
  • Ecommerce specialists
  • Social Media Specialists 

Essentially they are roles that significantly involve technology. Yet the skills required to perform these jobs are also identified as ‘skills amongst the skills gaps’ by Linkedin.

How Do We Address The Digital Skills Gap?

So what do we do about this digital skills gap? Who is going to fill the gap? Do we focus on children and encouraging interest in STEM fields? How can we help schools prepare our future workers with skills in emerging technologies. Consider numerous roles within the technology sector didn’t exist when many of us where at school. 

Do we focus on the massive pool of parents. In particular the women who have so much to potential in terms of talent and commitment. The same women who wish to acquire the digital skills in demand. Parents that need support and guidance with career changes. The same people that seek flexible working opportunities. Let the demand from workers seeking flexible working meet the demand to plug the digital skills gap.

Remote working and other flexible working options are becoming increasingly popular and manageable. Thankfully, for parents who have put a career on hold because of crippling childcare costs and the nine to five inflexible working day; there is a future. However more work is needed to help businesses cope with these changes. They need to be equipped with the resources to manage a flexible working team.

The Winners Changing The Future Of Women Globally

only 15% of people working in STEM roles in the UK are female.

The percentage of women in STEM related careers is low. The tech industry offers opportunities for in demand flexible working conditions. It seems clear that this is an area for businesses to make positive developments.

It’s early days in terms of changes. But there are companies running successful schemes for returners. Returner programmes aim to encourage those who have had career breaks to return. People who have years of experience but just need to up skill and build on their confidence.

There are forward thinking organisations such as the BBC. The ‘Step Into Tech Programme’ proving a huge success. No previous experience needed just a thirst for learning and tech.

Lots of new companies such as Tech Pixies, 23 Code Street, Digital Mums and Tech Returners have emerged in recent years. They are helping train women in tech skills such as coding, programming and social media management. Then there is  The Tech Talent Charter. This industry collective are supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy. They aim to bring together industries and organisations to drive diversity and address gender imbalance in technology roles.

The technology is there. The desire and passion is there. Career returners and career changers are willing. We just need to connect the dots.

Look out for more posts on this subject as we discuss ‘Women in tech’, ‘The future of the technological workplace’, ‘Coding for mums – by 23 Code Street’ and more.

Whilst you’re waiting for these fabulous reads, why not check out our flexible tech roles on our flexible working jobs board?