By Natalie Cramp, CEO of Profusion.
The full article was originally published by We are Tech Women.
Though there may not be a formal consensus on why the skills gap in the tech sector exists, most people agree that the gap is driven by an underrepresentation of women, minorities and underprivileged groups in the sector. There is also the wider issue of too few students in the UK taking up STEM subjects at school. To close this gap, we need to ensure diversity in tech and encourage players in the sector to take a more active role in inspiring the next generation.
Just how we get underrepresented groups into STEM is hotly debated but a fundamental lack of tech-awareness seems to be a leading cause. In my experience working with schools and public bodies across the country, I’ve seen students who do not know what a career in tech involves, nor do they know which subjects could get them into the sector. Businesses, especially within tech, need to engage with schools more to inspire students with the work we do.
That said, recent research from The Careers and Enterprise Company shows business engagement with schools is actually increasing. 80% of students are now benefiting from meeting employers and 66% are gaining valuable knowledge and skills from work experience. The problem is that tech companies are not among the businesses engaging with UK schools.
With the current state of the skills gap, the tech sector needs to engage and educate students to a greater extent than almost any other sector. Partnering with a school to provide talks for students, work experience, information or even internships, doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time and the benefits go both ways. We know that our staff gained a lot from working with students through Profusion’s school partnership programme.
There are hundreds of schools and thousands of startups in London alone. The tech capital of the UK is in the Borough of Hackney, which also happens to be home to some of the most diverse and deprived schools in the UK. The people the tech community need to reach the most are right on their doorstep.