Digital utopia: where everyone’s welcome

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While many experts within the IT world wouldn’t deny that there’s still a higher percentage of men working in the UK’s technology sector, recent reports would suggest that it in fact goes much deeper than simply the equality argument.

According to the Telegraph back in March, the UK is now positioned at number 16 out of 20 of the world’s developed economies when it comes to how many people have a technical education.  With an evident skills gap, an exponentially growing sector, and plans for Brexit, where does this leave organisations when it comes to recruiting for IT?

As London Tech Week starts, Ian, Head of Technical Practice, explains how Nationwide has become a driving force for greater diversity within the technical workforce to help address current issues like gender inequality, and minority group inclusion.

Being part of the Tech Talent Charter (TTC)

“Over the last couple of years, Nationwide has been part of a team defining the Tech Talent Charter, which means, like other organisations, that we’re committed to delivering a tech workforce that better reflects the diverse population of the UK,” explains Ian.

“We’ll make a number of pledges in relation to our approach to recruitment and retention, and although it’s mainly an employer-led initiative, in March this year, the TTC was supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy.”

“ With a looming digital skills gap, where it’s predicted that the UK needs one million more tech workers by 2020, initiatives like the Tech Talent Charter are leading the way in attraction and resourcing, and we’re delighted Nationwide can be a part of that now. ”

Girl Power – the missing talent pool

Today, as little as 17% of Tech/ICT workers in the UK are female, with only one in ten females taking an A-level in computer studies. There has been much debate about why there is still such a gender bias in the tech sector, and some put it down to girls being confused about what career choices they have with a technology degree or qualification.

“ There is still a perception that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are only for boys. That’s why not-for-profit organisations like Code First: Girls are really important. ”

Code First: Girls is a multi-award winning social enterprise. Their prime purpose is to increase the number of women in tech, and to help address the gender imbalance within the industry. Every year they run classes that teach over 2,000 women how to code. Besides helping the individual, they support companies to up-skill their staff, such as return-to-work mothers.

Inclusive recruiting

But it’s not only about encouraging women to join the industry. There are minority groups that are repeatedly overlooked as well, which the TTC is working hard to address.

“ We need to be much more consciously aware of the role diversity can play in technology. As an employer, we pride ourselves on our inclusive culture and society, which is why we don’t discriminate against anyone. ”

“For example, refugees and asylum seekers with permission to work in the UK are among the groups we’re keen to reach out to and attract.”

Ian will be taking part in the ‘Reducing bias in the recruitment process’ panel who’ll be discussing the topic of inclusion at the TechXLR8 sessions on Thursday 15th June during London Tech Week.

Are T-levels the answer?

Earlier in the year, plans were announced to introduce a new T-level system in an attempt to put the UK back on the tech map to improve levels of productivity.

“ As technology shifts the focus for financial institutions, there’s a need for a new skill set. It’s gaining momentum right now, and the education system is about to respond to that. ”

“Although it’s not just about preparing the children entering primary school now for roles that don’t yet exist, it’s about continuously upskilling the existing workforce, and/or retraining those who decide after a career break, to return to work. Whatever the reason, we’ll need to be more agile if it’s going to meet the challenges of future-proofing our workplace.”

Join us in our quest

Could a tech role in Nationwide be the career for you? With an exciting agenda in place to attract an even more diverse workforce at a time when technology is really shaking things up, there couldn’t be a more exciting time to become part of our team. Click here to find out more about the roles we’re currently looking to fill