IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Call for action on UK digital skills gap for women
Wed, 11th Oct 2023

As the UK celebrates Ada Lovelace Day, honouring the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), industry leaders have urgently called for a collaborative approach in addressing the growing digital skills gap and the pressing need to boost female representation in the tech sector. With approximately 870,000 tech sector vacancies in Britain, the demand for digitally competent employees is on the rise.

The Institute of Coding has been instrumental in addressing these issues, already engaging over one million learners, particularly from low-income backgrounds, with a diverse range of digital skills booster programmes. This effort comes as part of their commitment to enhancing social mobility and promoting equal opportunities within the tech industry.

Professor Rachid Hourizi MBE, Director of the Institute of Coding, emphasized the crucial role of digital upskilling in today's world where over 80% of all jobs require some form of digital competence. "However, with just one in five tech jobs being held by women, we need a targeted approach to skills development that benefits everyone across the country, no matter their stage in life, sector of work, or location," he stressed.

Professor Hourizi noted the importance of collective action, calling upon educators, employers, and government to work together in reviewing the delivery of digital skills education. As women are more likely to be taking care of children or relatives, flexibility around their existing commitments is crucial. He stated, "With future technological development on the ascent, there's a real risk that the digital skills gap and expanding inequalities will continue to grow unless we take decisive action."

He urged for action to ensure that women are fully supported in ways that suit their individual needs to create a diverse tech sector that is truly representative of the people it serves. The Institute of Coding, with its vast network of industry and employer partnerships, is playing a vital role in achieving this goal across the UK.

Inspiring stories of ambitious women succeeding in entering the tech industry have also emerged. Zuniara Rafique, a resident of Bristol aged 28, participated in Bath Spa University's digital skills booster programme over the summer. As a young Muslim woman with a background in education, the programme significantly boosted her digital confidence. With the skills and insights gained, Zuniara harbours ambitions to start her own business providing tailored clothing for young people in her community, addressing the current lack of such options in her locale.

These stories and initiatives highlight the importance of consistent and targeted efforts in enhancing female representation in the tech industry. Ada Lovelace Day serves as both a celebration of women's achievements in STEM and a reminder that there is still a great deal of progress to be made.