Claudia Harris, CEO of Makers Software Bootcamp, declares a call to action for the UK tech sector to kickstart National Coding Week
COVID19 has profoundly impacted the UK economy across a range of industries and caused widespread job uncertainty for millions of people. Yet in parallel with this crisis is the ongoing demand for digital skills which are vital for rebuilding the economy and maintaining our position as a global tech hub.
We can respond to this unprecedented situation by creating a new path into tech that is inclusive and diverse.
This is the moment for tech employers lucky enough to be hiring to recruit exceptional people from diverse backgrounds who may not have selected software engineering as a first career.
The rapid rise of software engineering bootcamps in recent years reveals two important truths. The first is that people can successfully retrain as software engineers fast. The second is that many people suited to the industry are inappropriately filtered out by the UK’s traditional education system for a range of reasons – a lack of encouragement, opportunity or the right grades. As just one example, we know that only 13% of computer science graduates are female. At the same time, software engineering bootcamps are able to recruit a much higher proportion by removing the requirement that candidates have studied particular subjects at school. Therefore, on the dimension of gender alone we know that our education system is currently screening out talent. There will be similar effects across geographic and socio-economic dimensions.
This means that there are possible software engineers currently working in creative arts, management, human resources and countless other areas across British companies. Many of them will now be considering their options, looking into industries and roles that they may not have contemplated previously, investing in training and reskilling. This presents an opportunity for tech recruitment.
We know that diverse backgrounds reduce groupthink and improve outcomes. A McKinsey report looking at 366 public companies in a range of countries and industries confirmed that those which were more diverse performed significantly better than others. We also know that closer integration of tech with core business improves results.
So what’s stopping us?
We have in place the mechanisms for enabling greater access to tech jobs. Apprenticeships were recently boosted by the government’s Plan for Jobs. Training is rapidly moving online providing the opportunity for people across the UK to benefit from a range of vocational programs developed by and aligned to the requirements of industry.
The pandemic has redefined the meaning of the physical office or classroom overnight – enabling a fairer distribution of not only remote training but also remote work opportunities.
The economic and employment challenges today present a unique opportunity for UK tech to recruit the best talent from new industries, geographies and backgrounds. A new generation of tech talent with the power to turbocharge performance could be on the make. Brave recruiting today will yield business results tomorrow and help to speed up our economic recovery.