What we can do to fix the diversity in tech challenge
Joysy John and Brent Hoberman
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.