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Helping to close the UK gender skills gap in technology

26th February 2021
Lanna Deamer

Code First Girls, the UK social enterprise working to close the gender skills gap in technology, has announced new strategic partnerships with 14 global and UK corporations including Rolls-Royce’s R² Data Labs, BT, Dell Technologies, Aviva, DAZN and more. The company has also partnered with French VC firm Jezby Ventures, its first partnership outside of the UKI, as well asexpanding its association with Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

The latest news reinforces Code First Girls’ ongoing pledge to double the Code First Girls community in 2021 to 40,000 women. As part of their commitment, the companies will together provide up to £10,000 worth of free education to every woman undertaking a course with Code First Girls. 

These new partnerships bring a breadth and depth of industries that can access Code First Girls courses, including engineering, telecommunications, software solutions, insurance, banking, media and more. By providing a diverse range of industries, Code First Girls is making pursuing a career in technology more accessible for all women, whilst showcasing the various pathways that can be taken to build a successful career, regardless of educational background.

The announcement comes at a critical time. The pandemic and its economic fallout are having regressive consequences on gender equality, erasing the advances made in the past decade. Recent data from McKinsey & Company reveals women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to COVID-19 than men’s jobs. Whilst women only make up 39% of global employment, they account for 54% of overall job losses. 

“At a time when women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, our priority is to help women achieve fair employment in the tech industry. We have seen a vast increase in interest for our courses, since the first lockdown, with over 800% growth in registrations for classes. Through these new and expanded corporate partnerships, we’re able to provide more women than ever with the opportunities to learn coding, build confidence through mentorship and gain access to a wide range of careers in technology” said Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls. 

“There is a growing gap between education and women going into technology, which is why more than half of women leave the industry. Employees play a key role in educating, empowering and upskilling women, as much as institutions do.” 

Each company has signed up to give women the fair advantage. This includes providing them with the tools and skills they need to excel in technology jobs, including software development and data. With Code First Girls, women are able to sign up to a range of free courses including: 

  • Nanodegrees: Open by application and interview to high potential women, who want a career in data or software. Course includes Python, SQL and building end-to-end systems and at the end of the twelve week programme, candidates will have the chance to work with one of Code First Girls’ partner companies.
  • Classes: Designed to provide fundamental grounding in web development, python or data, across 50 universities and other locations across the UK. The course provides live demonstrations and application through in-class exercises. Learners build innovative tech projects to kick start their online developer portfolio. 
  • Open online courses: Designed in short segments to impart technical skills, confidence or career discovery. They can be delivered for maximum social reach to women of all ages through social media platforms including YouTube. 

“Through our long-standing partnership with Code First Girls, we have been able to make a real impact to achieving gender parity in the industry. Technology plays a huge role in what we do at Bank of America and we are committed to fostering a truly diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent.  Our continued partnership will provide financial support, our tech teammates will be teaching Code First Girls students and training opportunities will also be offered to our female employees across the business, helping to bridge the UK diversity gap in technology” said Suzanne Janse van Rensburg, Managing Director, Global Technology Executive at Bank of America. 

The news also comes on the heels of recent data from Accenture which underlines failure to close the digital skills gap could see the UK forfeit £141.5bn of the GDP growth promised by investment in intelligent technologies, over the next seven years. The strategic partnerships highlight the active role and responsibility global corporations are taking to tackle the growing technology divide in the UK job market. 

Through its coding, mentorship and upskill programmes, Code First Girls is providing initiatives to support women including access to top female talent, engaging workshops and upskilling. The UK social enterprise has taught over 20,000 young women how to code in the UK and Ireland and is the largest provider of free coding courses for women, having delivered over £14m worth of free technology education. Code First Girls continues to expand their offerings around the world, with courses being launched in France this year as part of their partnership with Jezby Ventures. 

The full list of new partnerships includes Rolls-Royce’s R² Data Labs, BT, Dell Technologies, Aviva, DAZN, Avast, Beazley, Greensill, Jezby Ventures, Medidata Solutions, Just Eat and Revmo. Expanded partnerships include Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

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