• Thursday, August 11, 2022


What we can do to fix the diversity in tech challenge

Joysy John and Brent Hoberman

By: Eastern Eye Staff


By Joysy John
CEO, 01 Founders

THE pandemic has delayed progress towards gender equity by generations.

New data from the World Economic Forum suggests it will take 135 years to close the gender gap – up from 99.5 in 2020.

Two opposing trends are behind the slow progress in closing the economic par­ticipation and opportunity gap. Yes, the proportion of women among skilled pro­fessionals continues to in­crease, and so does progress towards wage equality, albeit at a slower pace. But, crucially, we are still only part-way towards bridging overall income disparity, and there is a persistent lack of women in leader­ship positions – women represent just 27 per cent of all manager positions.

Getting women into boardrooms, however, is only a minor slice of the problem. Technology adoption has been accelerated by Cov­id-19 in such a way that technical talent is in short supply.

To give a glimpse of the problem, in 2019 employers spent more than £4.4 billion a year on recruitment fees, increased salaries, and tem­porary staff to bridge the digital talent shortage. Last year, more than two-thirds of UK employers struggled to find workers with the right skills. By 2030, seven million workers (20 pe cent of the UK labour market) are likely to be under-skilled for their job requirements.

For a country with world-beating schools and universities, how have we got to this place? Our world is changing at a pace never before seen in human his­tory, but our education sys­tem is not keeping pace.

The way we work, we learn and communicate has been revolutionised by the pandemic, but our educa­tion systems are still struc­tured on the traditional paradigm of teachers im­parting knowledge to stu­dents (albeit online in the last year) and students be­ing tested. Furthermore, traditional education leaves graduates with a huge debt and no job guarantee.

So how do we fix this?

Every individual has po­tential – talent is every­where, but opportunities are not. For too long, wom­en, ethnic minorities and those from low socio-eco­nomic backgrounds have been under-represented in technology due to a combi­nation of unaffordable and insufficient training, a lack of network exposure, role models and sponsors.

01 Founders is starting a nationwide movement that removes the barriers to job-ready technical training, and rethinks the education mod­el at the same time. I want to provide learners with free education and a guaranteed job at the end of it.

Beyond this, we want the model to mimic how people learn in the workplace. Tra­ditional education is theo­retical, outdated and exam-based. Our curriculum is practical, real-life challenge-based and exam-free.

The lack of qualified teachers in technical subjects poses no threat to our mod­el. Rather than training up teachers, I want to leverage peer-to-peer learning and collective intelligence from the community. Self-learn­ing gives individuals the op­portunity to learn at their own pace and the autonomy to drive their learning jour­ney in a meaningful way.

Collaborative peer-to-peer learning fosters team­work, communication and initiative – the skills required to succeed in the 21st century. The model breaks traditional hierarchies and power moulds that have ex­cluded vast numbers of our population for too long.

This is not just about learning to code; it’s about re­writing the rules and giving learners the building blocks for a successful career.

Back in the 1990s, I was fortunate to get a scholar­ship from the Ministry of Ed­ucation in Singapore to study Computer Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. I went from India to Singapore to study and then worked across technol­ogy, banking, education and the non-profit sector.

Today, I am proud to be able to offer a similar op­portunity to thousands of women, ethnic minorities and people from disadvan­taged backgrounds.

At 01 Founders, we are es­tablishing a network of tui­tion-free on-campus coding schools for adults of all ages, where no prior qualifica­tions are required. You will learn to code and succeed in the future workplace, and you’ll have a guaranteed job at a leading firm after two years of the fellowship.

Come and join me on this journey – apply today at 01founders.co.

Eastern Eye

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