Feature

Caitlin Moran, Girls in Coding & the Future Workforce

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This is a guest post from Sinead Bunting, Marketing Director at Monster and organiser of tomorrow evening’s Girls in Coding: How they will be critical to female roles in the future workforce event, being held at Skills Matter. The event is free though tickets are limited, so book now!


I used to be a bit of a blogger, and enjoyed nothing more, than regularly posting a good cathartic piece of my mind at the industry blog; Digitalrecruiting.co.uk. But I stopped contributing about three years ago. Having moved media/solution side, I felt my thoughts wouldn’t be viewed as being as objective as perhaps they once were. Also, maybe nothing got me fired up enough to bother putting my tuppence worth out there in the blogosphere. Yet here I am today, fired up and ready to go!

So, What Happened?

In July last year I went to see Caitlin Moran launch her new book, How to Build a Girl in Union Chapel, Islington, London. I was pretty excited; I’m a big fan of Caitlin and I was also about to go on holiday to France, so was looking forward to a bit of downtime and a break from all things work.

That night however, rather un-expectantly, Caitlin said something that got me thinking all about work!

She said something that was so fundamentally important to the future of the workforce that I immediately thought to myself, ‘something has to be done about this’ and Monster and its mission of helping folks ‘Find Better’ in their career and its strength in connecting tech talent, has some role to play here…

This is what Caitlin said:

“If 90% of coders are men, developing and owning the language of the future, women won’t be part of the conversation”

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This hit me like a bolt of lightning – well perhaps a slight exaggeration – but it did really hit home. I was worried. Whilst there is still some way to go in terms of true equality, whether it’s in equal pay or the low percentage of women in senior management positions, females have made some significant strides in the UK workforce in recent years. This has been to the benefit of all concerned with reports showing that companies who have more women on their boards and in their senior management teams aren’t just ‘doing the right thing’, they are generating greater profit. The prospect of this gender equality progress unravelling, due to females not being sufficiently skilled in tech to converse in a world where all things tech prevail, is hugely concerning. It’s also the wrong direction to go in for a stronger, fairer and more successful society. As Hilary Clinton stated last month at a conference for women in Silicon Valley; “We’re going backward in a field that is supposed to be all about moving forward”.

Girls in Coding and the Future Workforce

Intuitively, the solution seems pretty clear; we need to show girls that a career in coding can be hugely interesting, rewarding and that coding and technology are fundamental skillsets required for any industry or role they hope to pursue in the future. Additionally we need to enable girls to learn these skills and also up-skill females (and males) who are currently in the workforce. So, by no means an easy or simple task. This is further compounded by worrying retention rates of women current working in tech, who are leaving the industry due to a chauvinist culture and female-unfriendly working environment. If we are building a pipeline of female tech talent but it goes into an environment that’s not accessible or sustainable, we have a ‘leaky bucket’ effect, which does not solve issues in the long-term.

The good news is that contrary to popular opinion, girls and women actually quite like technology with recent reports showing that there are now more women than men gamers in the UK. Having spoken to numerous women in and around the area of technology and ‘women in tech’ in last month or so, there is some fantastic work and initiatives already being done it this area. There is such an appetite and passion to help girls and women get into technology that the future is incredibly promising.

Next Steps – Working Together

Our goal at Monster is to raise awareness of the issue amongst talent acquisition and HR professionals and to show both current and future candidates the importance of coding skills in current and future careers.

Our first step towards raising awareness is to host a Monster #TechTalent event on April the 16th at Skills Matter eXchange, London: Girls in Coding: How they will be critical to female roles in the future workforce.

The event will consist of a series of interactive panel discussions with leading figures in this space discussing issues around the long, mid and shorter term areas and possible solutions to help girls get into coding and women into technology.

The event is open to all parties, and of course both genders.

The following panellists have been confirmed:

  • Amali de Alwis, CEO and Executive Board, Code First: Girls
  • Ruth Nicholls, Managing Director, Young Rewired State
  • Amelia Humfress, Founder and CEO, Steer
  • Anne-Marie Imafidon, Founder, STEMettes
  • Marily Nika, Co-ambassador, London Geekettes
  • Debbie Forster, UK Managing Director, CDI Apps for Good
  • Gina Jackson, Managing Director, Next Gen Skills Academy
  • Graeme Goulden, Senior Product Lead, Monster Worldwide
  • Alexa Glick, Global Diversity Program Manager, Microsoft
  • Wendy Devolder, CEO, Skills Matter

Role Models

Additionally, what we know is that ‘people buy people’ and girls are hugely influenced by roles models and their peer group. Monster is working with the London Met Film School to film a selection of women in tech, as role models to show girls just how rewarding and successful a career in and around technology can be. We will be distributing this content online with the aim of influencing not only girls but their parents who as gatekeepers are hugely influential when it comes to subject and career choice.

Plug the Digital skills Gap & Fuel Economic Growth

It’s estimated that the UK requires an additional 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017and 77% of firms within Tech City in London say they could grow faster if they had access to better skilled digital staff. All too many studies highlight that in tech, its men who are leading the way in this crucial aspect of the workforce. To ensure we meet this tech talent challenge, plug the digital skills gap, as well as develop tech that meets the needs and requirements of both genders, this needs to change.

Having spoken to many industry figures and women in technology in the last few months, it’s fantastic to know that there are many great initiatives and passionate professionals out there wanting to and already making a difference in this key area. We’re looking forward to marking the start of our Girls In Coding campaign with our upcoming event and believe that, by raising further awareness of the issue amongst the HR and talent acquisition community, we can work collaboratively to really make a difference to the amount of girls and women considering coding as an exciting and rewarding career option.

Watch this space…..


For more information on the Girls in Coding: How they will be critical to female roles in the future workforce event, or to register, click here.

 

Dear next PM: Stem the tide of our worsening tech skills gap!

This open letter to the next Prime Minister from Skills Matter CEO Wendy Devolder first appeared on ElectronicsWeekly.com. It is reprinted here with permission.


wendy-devolder-1200px-webDear next P.M.,

You will know that London is now the undisputed home to Europe’s fastest growing tech cluster.

It’s not clear, however, if you or your main challengers intend to take action to deal with the crisis in which our capital’s tech businesses find themselves.

They can not find the talent to keep up with their own growth. So you and your government must take action.

Tech is a golden place to work right now according to all the most recent research. The Business Growth Fund and Barclays say 27% of all job growth in London is generated by the tech and digital sector. And businesses questioned by the latest Barclays’ Fast Growth Tech survey predict they will grow by 11 percent on average over the course of the year, which is more than four times faster than the UK’s 2015 GDP forecast (2.6 percent).

Technology professionals are also receiving more pay rises than pay cuts. The Technology Industry 2015 Report by Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly reveals the proportion of permanently employed technology professionals getting pay rises has continued to rise from 57% in 2013 through to 64% in 2015.

And yet 80% of data-intensive businesses still struggle to find the skills they need, suggests research co-produced by the Royal Statistical Society.

The current Home Secretary Theresa May’s response: a proposal in December, 2014 to immediately kick out foreign, highly-skilled technology graduates from British universities after they complete their studies, preventing them from entering the UK’s technology job market.

May’s proposal was widely criticised by the tech sector and ultimately blocked by Chancellor George Osborne. Yet the growing negative rhetoric in the UK around immigration is badly hurting our tech sector. Compounded by the UK’s visa restrictions, it’s now harder than ever to find highly-trained international talent, let alone experienced and highly skilled local talent that is up to speed with the needs of our world-class tech firms. And let’s not forget all the other industry sectors, whether banking or retail or publishing, for whom technical talent and expertise are vital for developing and maintaining a competitive advantage.

T​he solution to our tech skills gap is to attract the very best tech talent from around the world to our capital. But little is being done to make this happen.

Despite initiatives like Mayor Boris Johnson’s talent visa to attract the best and brightest in tech from around the world to London, the UK’s visa restrictions remain unnecessarily bureaucratic and the quotas are too low and too narrow.

We have so many successful homegrown innovators to celebrate, including companies like Mind Candy, Huddle, and Novoda, all based and founded in London. And the capital’s digital scene continues to enjoy fantastic growth. According to The Tech Nation Report by Tech City, there’s been a 92% increase in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013 and there are now more than 250,000 jobs digital jobs in London.

This means the urgent need for the very best talent to design, develop and grow products and services is stronger than ever – something we see first hand evidence of at Skills Matter, with daily requests from companies across all sectors about how and where to find skilled people to fill vacancies.

We help by working with companies and communities to inspire and develop talent and skills, connecting software engineers with world renowned experts to develop technical, behavioural and process capabilities. I’ve also long campaigned for easing visa restrictions through my engagement with No 10’s Tech City initiative, UKTI, Tech London Advocates and the House of Lords.

But of course as our tech sector grows, the problem will only get worse. So if our capital city wants to continue generating quality jobs and remain a leader in burgeoning sectors such as fintech, dealing with the technology ‘skills-gap’ is imperative now.

​Future Prime Minister, this topic’s a winner for you. You need to spell out now what you’ll do to support London’s continued growth into a world-class tech hub.

Wendy Devolder, CEO of Skills Matter

2013 is behind us, but 2014 is just beginning! Check out these conferences from Skills Matter!

Droidcon 2013, London

Last year we ran 29 conferences, attracting people from all over the world to our events in London and New York, and we had a blast! Not ones to rest on our laurels, we’re very pleased to announce the following conferences for 2014. There will be more to follow, with an exciting opportunity for iOS developers in the works, so be sure to keep an eye on our website for more info, or follow us on Twitter for updates!


The Functional Programming eXchange 2014

Functional Programming eXchange 14 Mar 2014

The Functional Programming eXchange returns to Skills Matter for it’s sixth year with the theme Data Science with Functional Programming. This is the ultimate chance to meet and learn from the leading experts in the Functional world. Meet other like minded developers, not necessarily just from your specific discipline, to share common challenges and discuss practical solutions.

Rather than focusing on the merits of one language above another, the eXchange gives a platform for cross functional solutions to software problems. There will be ample opportunity to brainstorm, code, and interact with 100+ functional developers on the day.

CukeUp! 2014

Cukeup! 10 Apr 2014

CukeUp! 2014 is a fast-paced conference inspired by and organised with Aslak Hellesøy, the creator of Cucumber BDD – who will also be this years’ keynote speaker. Together, we’ve been assembling the community since 2011 for this intense conference – 2014 will see it stretch to two days for the first time, which just proves its popularity!

This exciting event is based around tutorials on the first day, and 30 minute talks on the second day – you can look forward to hearing about all the latest developments and best practices in Cucumber, presented by leading experts.

Progressive .NET Tutorials 2014

Progressive .NET Tutorials 28 May 2014

Don’t miss this three-day conference, where you’ll be taking a real deep-dive into .NET in four-hour sessions! These three days are a highly practical, deep-dive insight into complicated ideas and topics on everything to do with .NET in an intensive learning atmosphere – you’ll need your laptop!

With the help of Ian Cooper, the London .Net user group lead and renowned .Net expert, we will get you the best brains available!

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DDD eXchange 20 June 2014

At the DDD eXchange 2014 you’ll discover all the newest innovations in Domain-Driven Design and get the chance to learn and share solutions and new ideas! This eXchange brings together the Domain Driven Design community with the experts who lead it for a day of networking, sharing new ideas, creating partnerships, and learning from the best and brightest in the field.

Each year, with the blessing of Eric Evans (the father of Domain-Driven Design) we welcome an array of high-profile speakers to explore and share new thoughts about DDD with grass-roots designers, programmers, and architects.


Did you attend one of our conferences in 2013? What did you think? What else would you like to see Skills Matter cover in 2014? Let us know in the comments section below!

British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme

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Nine of the world’s most innovative young creative entrepreneurs working in multimedia are in London to collaborate with peers from the UK as part of the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme.

The Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme celebrates and and connects emerging innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in the creative and cultural industries around the world.

These creative minds included Uche Pedro the driving force behind Africa’s premier online lifestyle, entertainment and fashion portal, BellaNaija. Marcos Ferreira the entrepreneur opening up multi-platform content to Brazil through mobile technology and the creator of a Vietnamese online film festival and development platform for film-makers.

Our CEO Wendy Devolder was invited to take part in their expert panel to share and speak about leadership experiences. Other experts on the panel included Paul Boross, an internationally recognised authority on communications, presentation and performance, as well as BBC Chief Creative Officer Pat Younge and founder of global youth broadcasting brand SBTV Jamal Edwards.

As you may know one of our core beliefs here at Skills Matter is to learn and share. This was a fantastic opportunity for Wendy to share her ever expanding sea of knowledge, speaking about a wide range of experiences from starting up Skills Matter to taking it across the Atlantic. All nine entrepreneurs show great enthusiasm and potential, we wish them luck in all their endeavours!

Why not check out the entrepreneurs profiles? We can guarantee you’ll be impressed!