Unfolding plans 65 – excite young people about technology

Number one on my list of things to achieve this year was to try and get more women to work in the ICT industry.  We recently interviewed for some apprentice vacancies.  Of the nineteen applicants not one of them was female.  It’s going to be a long shot yet there seems to be some momentum building.  It’s been a couple of months since the event at the Education Development Centre in March but I guess these things take time to settle and sprout.

It’s not just us though.  Not only are we starting to get going, so is Dynamo.  More women in ICT is one of the key themes that the group has been working on and at the last meeting we agreed to set the theme up and Janet agreed to lead.  There are a lot of related initiatives going on across the region and it will be good to bring them altogether behind a single standard.

So what are we up to?  Firstly, we have broken our target audience down into three main areas to focus on: primary schools; secondary schools and; careers advisors within the learning sector.  Secondly we have put plans in place to work with each of these groups.

For primary schools we want to somehow excite the young children about technology without getting involved in career or subject choices.  We are looking around for people and organisations that can do fun stuff with them and get them interested in working with computers, robots and the like.  If you know of anyone please let me know.

As for the secondary schools it is probably a different problem.  It may be more of an issue with subject choices or the stereotyping of what it is like to work in the technology industry.  I’m not sure so I’ve got myself on the agenda for an upcoming meeting of the Durham Association of Secondary heads to ask these very questions.  Sally, who spoke at our first event, is coming along as well.

The careers advisors should be an obvious group to work with.  Hopefully if we can get them to be aware of all of the different and exciting jobs out there that use technology then they will be able to pass that wisdom on to the young people.  We need to get a better understanding of what they do and how we can tap into their experience and skills.

I am also seeing if I can garner interest from colleagues within my own service to encourage more involvement and get as many hands on deck as possible.  We already have a small team but any additional help would be gratefully received.  We’re not as gender balanced as we should be yet we are not as bad as some of the highest profile companies who operate in the sector.  I sometimes think there is some irony in me getting involved in this issue but it is going to take men as well as women to get the balance right.

We’ve pushed the boat away from the shore.

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