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Automation Career Change Career Returners Career Returners Careers Digital Skills Students and Graduates Technology Industry

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.

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
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
Automation Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work Technology Industry

The Growing Digital Skills Gap

Back in 2019 we discussed the digital skills gap, what it is and what needs to be done to address it. We still stand by the fact that flexible working opens doors to many more talented people able to plug this gap. But what else have we learned?

Since we discussed the matter much more research has been carried out by organisations such as The Tech Talent Charter, McKinsey, World Economic Forum, Deloitte and more – find a list of all the reports we think you’ll want to read at the end of this post.

So here are a few stats to get you warmed up

  • According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry.
  • Flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities (Timewise).
  • Further research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%.
  • In a survey of working women by the Tech Talent Charter, more than half of respondents were open to a career in tech, subject to being able to obtain the relevant knowledge and skills.
  • BAME IT professionals are less likely to be in positions of responsibility than those of white ethnicity – despite on the whole being better qualified, a new study has found (Chartered Institute for IT, 2020).
  • 91% of UK employers struggled to find workers with the right skills over the last year (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • The percentage of organisations scaling automations was found to have doubled in the last year, making concerns surrounding re-skilling even more prevalent (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • Only 1 in 7 workers in roles at high risk of automation received training in the last year.
  • 8 to 9 percent of 2030 labour demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before (McKinsey 2017).
  • Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task specialised work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration (WEF, 2020).
  • It is estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms (World Economic Forum, 2020).
  • On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require re-skilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018 (World Economic Forum, 2020).

So what does this mean for the future of work?

To try and condense a multifactorial concept of ‘The Future Of Work’ into a short paragraph is difficult but here goes. The way we work has and will continue to change. Automation will see mass job loss but also create millions of jobs too. Eight to nine percent of labour demand in 2030 will be in roles that do not exist today. It is clear that education and re-skilling are key to navigating this huge change. Without the investment it needs we could see huge unemployment. Yet in parallel there will be large volumes of vacant roles requiring skills few people have learned.

So what next?

With epic amounts of data to support what the future of work looks like. We know that these issues need addressing now. Our current workforce, especially those who are more likely to suffer job loss as a result of automation need to be re-skilled in skills for the future. Ideally this needs to be done whilst employees are still in employment. Tackling the issue once these people have lost their jobs will be more difficult as the urgency to find paid employment may negate the desire to change careers or study. 

Our children are the workforce of the future and the national curriculum should reflect this. Research needs to be done on how we teach children the in demand skills of the future.

A report by Deloitte and BITC highlight the case for change saying

  • investment in reskilling by organisations appears to be lacking
  • employees most at risk of automation are not spending time reskilling.
  • and it is getting harder for organisations to hire the skills they need externally.

Who should we re-skill?

It comes as no surprise that the technology industry is lacking diversity on all levels. According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry. Research commissioned by the Fawcett Society revealed that 1 in 3 working mothers lost work or hours due to childcare needs, that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis, and that ethnic minority women were more likely to have concerns about losing their jobs.

You only need to look at a handful of reports over the last couple of years to see the lack of diversity.

The Tech Talent Charter surveyed working women to see what would persuade them to consider a career in tech. More than 50 percent of respondents were open to a career in tech, providing they could access the relevant knowledge and skills.

Then we need to consider those more likely to lose their jobs as a result of automation. Those in industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality (McKinsey, 2020).

When should we re-skill?

Time is of the essence. With Covid potentially accelerating the automation curve we need to act now. We need to avoid the costs of job loss and a prolonged, expensive recruitment process. Not to mention trying to recruit people with skills that very few have trained to do. 

We need to invest in reskilling our workforce now. It makes good business sense. Make the most of your employees now. Take the employees whose roles may be at risk from automation and ask them if they would be interested in retraining. Models for retraining and redeployment need to start now.

graphic showing option a to re-skill and redeploy workers versus redundancies and costly recruitment

How are flexible working, diversity and inclusion and the digital skills gap linked?

Our own research has shown the diversity in our own audience seeking flexible working. This is backed by Timewise who say “flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities.”. But until flexible working is more widely accepted and valued by organisations these people, talented and brimming with potential will be unable to access the careers they desire.

Research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%. Whilst this is great news that highlights the value of flexible working, much is still to be done to ensure that flexibility offerings are not just a tick box exercise. Something our team at Find Your Flex takes very seriously.

Open up a discussion on how, where and when is the best way to do a job and you will attract more talented and diverse people into roles. The technology industry needs to be as diverse as the people it serves. There is a whole group of diverse people out there eager for a career, they just require the flexibility to access it. This untapped group of talented people could be the part of the answer to the digital skills gap.

How will Find Your Flex address the digital skills gap?

We have exciting plans for 2021 – 2022 and have something up our sleeves that we think could not only address the issue of re-skilling but also provide a green solution too. We can’t say too much now but watch this space. We’ve also just joined The Tech Talent Charter as one of their signatories. Read more about the great work they are doing here.

A list of interesting reading on the future of work, diversity in technology and responsible automation

Categories
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
  • 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?