Jacqueline de Rojas CBE
You don’t have to be a deep technologist to be a part of the tech sector. An interdisciplinary approach that covers STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths – can improve creativity and innovation and drive the tech sector.
The digital skills gap we currently face is rooted in the perception people have of STEM. Witness the example of a teacher who invited students at her primary school to draw a ‘scientist’. They nearly all drew a white man in a lab coat. The teacher then asked the children to draw themselves as a scientist and from that was able to show them that anyone can be involved in science. To broaden our meaning of STEM to include STEAM signals to many more people that they could seek a career path in tech.
Creativity and digital go hand-in-hand but we need a more focused approach on how to better meet the needs of industry in order to equip students with the right skills to enter the workforce and their ongoing careers. Diversity and inclusion sit at the heart of this.
Lack of diversity matters
In a nationwide poll of 1,000 16–18 year olds by the Institute of Coding, more than half believe the digital workforce lacks diversity with 70% of youth surveyed thinking the sector is run entirely by those of White, British ethnicity. One in 10 admit they are actively discouraged from pursuing digital education and jobs due to the lack of gender or ethnic diversity representation.
While some of these opinions echo what many people in the industry may already feel, what is shocking is that these are the perceptions of young people who have yet to set foot in the sector.
Creativity and digital go hand-in-hand but we need a more focused approach on how to better meet the needs of industry in order to equip students with the right skills to enter the workforce.
Showcase the life changing opportunities of digital skills and jobs
It is clear that we must re-evaluate the way students perceive tech. As our world continues to digitise, virtually every job is going to have a tech element to it – and those jobs won’t all sit in the field of being a deep technologist.
techUK is working with the wider tech sector to run a campaign to inspire more interest. The Fast Forward for Digital Jobs Taskforce shares how people from all walks of life, including creatives and artists, have gained skills in digital technology and benefited from life-changing career opportunities. We have the opportunity to educate future generations and show them that there is an intersection of creativity and STEM that can allow anyone to gain digital skills and to thrive.