Free training courses - WeAreTechWomen (800 × 600 px)

Get into tech with these free training courses

Are you in the tech industry and looking to learn new skills? Or do you want a career change and are unsure of where to start?

There are an abundance of companies and social enterprises that can provide you with free training. Here at WeAreTechWomen, we have pulled together a number of great opportunities for you to explore.

A number of these organisations provide online distance learning, whereas some also provide the opportunity to join them at events and to be part of their communities!

Go explore, and if we have missed an organisation that provides these opportunities for women to get into tech, you can drop us a note at [email protected].

Code First Girls


Code First Girls has become the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, having delivered over £40 million worth of free technology education and teaching three times as many women to code as the entire UK university undergraduate system!

Find out more

Coding Black Females


Coding Black Females was created in 2017. We are a nonprofit organisation, and our primary aim is to provide opportunities for Black female developers to develop themselves, meet familiar faces, network, receive support and build relationships through having regular meetups.

Find out more

OpenLearn


Produced by The Open University, a world leader in open and distance learning, all OpenLearn courses are free to study. We offer nearly 1000 free courses across eight different subject areas. Find free science, maths and technology courses below.

Find out more

TechUP Women


TechUP is a training programme that focuses on training individuals from minority groups into tech careers. Working closely with industry the TechUP team creates a programme tailored to industry needs whilst also ensuring every participant gets an amazing learning experience.

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LinkedIn Learning


Advance your career with LinkedIn Learning. Learn from courses taught by industry experts in leadership, management, marketing, programming, IT, photography, graphic design, web and interactive design, 3D animation and much more.

Find out more

Trailhead by Salesforce


Start your adventure by learning the way you want with Salesforce’s Trailhead. Learn at your own pace with learning paths designed just for you, take classes taught by Salesforce experts, and get answers from fellow Trailblazers in our community.

Find out more

Discover more free training courses


We've rounded-up a number of different organisations that offer free coding clubs, training courses and ways you can get into the tech industry.

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Technology Leadership featured

How embracing fear can HELP your career to develop

Article by Dash Tabor, CEO of TUBR

Technology LeadershipWE’VE all felt those moments of dread having to deal with tough or difficult situations in the workplace.

But I never anticipated the totally debilitating, mind-consuming stress driven by imposter syndrome and anxiety that I would feel through the early stages of building my business. The feelings of being overwhelmed often brought on physical sensations of the walls literally closing in on me. My mind would freeze and my productivity would drop.

But I never gave up. I never even considered quitting was an option. I refused to be paralysed by feelings I believed I should be in control of.

And now, you know what, I am so happy I went through it.

It’s been a journey that has now led me to a place of acceptance and enabled me to talk about my feeling without fear and without worrying that I’ll show weakness.

As a result I am now in a much healthier headspace.

So my advice to anybody in terms of career development is to embrace the fear. You need to start by acknowledging it. Vocalise it if you need to. Literally take five minutes away, in a quiet space, to say out loud what you are worried about. Consider recording it on your phone. It can be a great reminder in later years as to how you’ve overcome challenges. Don’t be afraid to lean on others either – and not just people working in business. Often the very best advice can come from a room-mate, friend, partner, relative.

When you are all-consumed by an issue a fresh perspective can be worth its weight in gold.

On many occasions when I’ve faced a problem a friend has helped me step back and realise I am approaching it completely wrong.

Once you’ve acknowledged the fear, take space to deal with it. That might mean ten minutes outside in the park. Or an hour in the gym. Or a day away from the office. Often when you give yourself space solutions will come – sometimes when you least expect.

Finally, forget the idea of never making mistakes.

You always will – and you always must. If you’re not you are not going about things the right way and you are probably not taking enough risks. Be willing to acknowledge mistakes The first step to achieving growth is admitting when you’ve done wrong. Don’t try to cover it up, deny it, or push it aside. Doing so will only make things worse, increase your stress, and in some cases, damage your reputation.

If you need to say sorry to someone, say it. Think of the biggest mistake you’ve ever made. Does anyone remember it? Did you learn something from it? Honesty and ownership are acts of courage.  Next reframe and analyse the mistake.

Changing your perspective is the second step to the learning process. Putting in a dedicated effort to step back from the situation will help you see the bigger picture and increase your resilience. Ask yourself the hard questions. Self reflection is difficult but crucial to the learning journey. Similar to ownership, you can’t take steps to change things if you don’t know what you did. Take the time to consider what led up to the mistake, including errors you made along the way.

Then take what you’ve learned from your mistake and adjust accordingly.  That may mean improving your communication skills or putting in place strategies so you don’t neglect important details.  Practice makes perfect. The more you train your mind and body to think and react in a certain way, the quicker the improvement.

Finally, remember, life in the comfort zone is fine for some. But for those who really want to succeed and achieve their ambitions you have to step out of it, embrace the fear and move forward.

Dash TaborAbout the author

Dash Tabor is co-founder and CEO of TUBR, a tech start-up which has developed machine learning technology that needs only a fraction of that data usually required to make real-time predictions across rapidly changing environments.


Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept, stress

Ten techniques to combat stress and anxiety at work

Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept, stress

Article provided by Liz Walker, HR Director, Unum

Practice mindfulness

Many of the techniques mentioned involve mindfulness, which is a popular method of combatting anxiety. Mindfulness can stop you worrying by bringing your attention back to the present through acknowledging your worries and letting them go.

Mindfulness allows you to get in touch with your emotions and recognise how you feel.

Take a step back

Viewing thoughts and worries as if they are show or film you’re observing can be a good way to disconnect yourself from them and to finally put them out of your mind.

Accept strange thoughts

We all have strange thoughts from time to time, such as ‘what if I scream during a presentation?’. These thoughts are natural and will jump out from time to time. When this happens instead of focusing on it, describe it to yourself as the curiosity it is and move on. Remember, our minds are creative with lots of little thoughts floating about.

Recognise false alarms

Everyone has the sudden worry they didn’t lock the front door or left the iron on, however rarely do these things actually materialise. When you find yourself thinking along these lines and notice your body responding with a rapid heartbeat, recognise the situation for what it is. Acknowledge the thoughts and sensations but let them pass.

Positive Self Talk

Often, we’re far harder on ourselves than we would be on others. Try to talk positively to yourself rather than putting yourself down, like you would if you were talking to a child or friend who was nervous. Telling yourself phrases such as ‘this feeling will pass’ and ‘I will be ok’ could help to reassure you and reduce stress or worry.

Set Aside Worry Time

Sometimes worries can niggle at us and prevent us from doing things we should be doing. When this happens jot down the reason you’re feeling anxious and resolve to think it through later. By the time you get to doing that it’s likely many of the worries you’ve noted won’t be an issue anymore.

Question Your Thoughts

Feeling anxious can make our thoughts spiral out of control and think outlandish things. When you find this happening try to question your thoughts by asking yourself such questions as ‘is this worry realistic?’ and ‘what is the worst possible outcome and would it really be that bad?’.

Learn to Say No

Don’t take on too much, if you’re overloaded with work and extremely busy but given more work, try to push back. Talking to your boss about the situation will give them a better understanding of your workload and could allow you to push back deadlines or receive some help with a task.

Keep Track

Keep a diary for a week or two to track which situations make you feel most stressed and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts and feelings and what you did as a result; this can help you find out what situations make you stressed and your reactions to it.

Talk About It

Voicing your concerns, worries or feelings to an attentive and trusted listener can feel very cathartic. The person you speak to doesn’t have to ‘fix’ things, just listen to you even if it doesn’t change the situation.


empowering junior women in the workplace featured

How to empower junior women within your business

empowering junior women in the workplace

Veronique Barbosa is the Co-Founder and COO of Flux, a digital receipts and rewards platform that lives inside your banking app and is currently partnered with the likes of Just Eat, KFC, itsu, and EAT.

For women in business, it’s no secret that getting ahead can be a challenge (to say the least).

Just one in five of Britain’s six million businesses is run by a woman.

Only 32 per cent of directorships on FTSE 100 boards are held by women.

And across the top ranking companies globally, only 18 per cent have a female leader – a figure that’s barely shifted in the last few years.

When it comes to women working in the technology sector, specifically, it’s the same story – or rather depressingly, a little worse. Currently, just 17 per cent of people working in tech are women.

Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s my firm belief that if we are to tackle and finally overcome the issue of gender equality in the workplace, empowering junior women is a huge part of the puzzle.

In my career to date – both as COO and co-founder of Flux, and prior to that as Head of Partnerships at Revolut – I’ve been lucky enough to have hired and managed many talented and inspirational women. Here are three things I’ve learnt along the way about how best to empower junior women within your business.

Recognising the barriers

It might sound counterintuitive, but the first step to overcoming the barriers for women in business, is to recognise those barriers. It’s the job of managers and senior leaders within business to acknowledge the challenges facing women, and seek to understand them: where do these barriers stem from? How are they perpetrated? How much of the problem is in deep-rooted bias (a sub-conscious preference shown towards male candidates at interview, for instance), and how much is down to practical systems in place within your business (such as flexible working policies or maternity and paternity leave)?

Once you can answer some of these questions – even if only in part – you are one step closer to being able to break down the biases and address the problems.

Champion change

Secondly, communication plays a vital role. When it comes to business leaders and business founders, there is plenty of data to back up the suggestion that women hold themselves back. In a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group survey, female respondents cited social expectations and gender stereotypes as some of the reasons preventing them from applying for a new position or a promotion.

Meanwhile, data from the Young Women’s Trust found that 54% of women aged 18-30 said they lack self-confidence when it comes to applying for jobs, compared to 39% of men.

Empowering junior women in business starts with getting them through the door in the first place, and that means championing the opportunities that are there. It starts in the education system, but doesn’t stop there; young women need to be made aware firstly that the opportunities are available to them, and secondly equipped with the confidence to apply for them.

Mentoring

Finally, I urge all business leaders to consider introducing mentoring initiatives within their business. These needn’t be directed solely at female employees – after all, we can all benefit from some guidance in our career – but what I would say is that these initiatives should be tailored, and accessible to all. For young women who are starting out in their career, there is huge value in having visible female role models, who have trodden a similar path and can share their own experiences of overcoming certain challenges.

Of course, depending on the size of a business, frequent and readily available mentoring isn’t always a possibility, so I also point my team in the direction of the many useful resources available in literature and online. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a book I often turn to, and I’m also a regular listener to the Girl Boss podcast.

I am very thankful for the growing community of women who are committed to lifting each other up. Whatever stage of career we’re at, we can all benefit from seeing and sharing relatable, real-life success stories. We might have a way to go, but we’re making unprecedented progress: let’s celebrate that.


The World of AI featured

What are AI-driven hiring assessments and how do they work?

The World of AI featured

By Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro, IO Psychology consultant at HireVue

As anyone who has gone through it recently will well know, looking for a new job is practically full-time work in itself.

Every application requires a significant time investment to tailor your CV and cover letter before completing any specific requirements for the company in question (such as a multiple-choice questionnaire or aptitude test). If you’re then invited to an initial interview, you will need to spend even more time preparing for a short conversation, which too often provides limited opportunity to showcase your full potential.

Meanwhile, organisations continue to drown in endless piles of CVs and struggle to differentiate the deluge of applications. For instance, a financial services company opening new banking centers internationally has been receiving nearly 100,000 job applications each month for well over a year. Such high volumes of applications have led many companies to invest in both on-demand video interviewing and pre-hire assessment tests driven by artificial intelligence (AI). This helps both recruiters and candidates save time and begins to democratise the hiring process by offering all candidates an equal opportunity to be considered for the role. However, if you’re invited to a video interview or AI-driven assessment for the first time, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little apprehensive about how it will work.

Is there really anything to be nervous about?

The role of AI in recruitment

AI in recruitment typically involves machine-learning algorithms which analyse your answers to questions and provide insights to help hiring managers make more informed decisions at an early stage in the interview process. Rather than submitting a CV and cover letter, you may be invited to complete a short video interview and/or games-based assessment to apply for the role. We’ll explain these in more detail later.

Following your assessment, the AI algorithm (also called an assessment model) helps the recruiter to make a more informed decision by evaluating your submission and measuring data points which are scientifically proven to be predictive of successful performance in the specific job role for which you’re applying. A pool of candidates, ranked by their fit for the role, is presented to the recruiter, who then reviews the recommended shortlist, and decides which to progress to the next round.

Sounding straightforward so far? Now let’s look at how video and games-based assessments work in more detail…

Video interviews

If you’re invited to take an AI-powered video interview, you will likely receive instructions via email and will need to follow the link to enter the interview, so you can choose to complete it at a time and place convenient to you from either a computer or smartphone. Most AI-powered video interviews take 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It’s important to note that this video interview may only be the first step in your interviewing process, as those who are successful are very likely to meet one or more people face-to-face later in the process.

You should expect a format which is similar to a traditional interview in which you are asked a series of questions. The questions will be relevant to the success in the role you are applying for and every candidate will be asked the same set of questions. This creates a much fairer process for all candidates and helps to minimise bias.

While it’s natural for most people to feel a little self-conscious on camera, keep in mind that you’re u

nlikely to lose out on the job simply because you don’t smile enough, don’t make enough eye contact, or blink too much. When building assessments, only data features related to success in the role are leveraged. Physical appearance and other demographic factor-related data that have nothing to do with it are not considered – on the contrary, assessments should always be tested for adverse impact to avoid anybody to be adversely impacted in this regard.

Game-based assessments 

Games are another popular part of AI-powered assessments, as they are scientifically proven to measure cognitive skills including problem-solving and working memory, as well as job-relevant personality traits. Their accuracy is similar (and often increasingly higher) when compared to longer and more repetitive psychometric tests.

Again, you will receive an email with a link to enter the assessment, and it can be completed on your smartphone from any location and typically takes just 15 minutes. Safe to say, a game-based assessment is typically more fun than a traditional psychometric test containing hundreds of fill-in-the-circle questions!

Game-based assessments will also be tailored to the role you’re applying for. For example, both entry- and mid-level jobs require cognitive skills, but a manager may need to demonstrate more sophisticated organisational and problem-solving skills.

Preparing for success

Regardless of the type of interview, preparation is key. If you’re invited to a video interview with an AI assessment, take the time to practice potential interview questions, or take advantage of the practice tests often offered with most games-based assessments. This will ensure you aren’t taken by surprise and can showcase your full potential.

It’s also a good idea to create a calm environment where you won’t be disturbed. These types of interviews provide an opportunity to choose a time and location that suits you, so you won’t need to worry about taking time off work, the bus being late or getting lost en route!

Finally, take a deep breath and remember that the premise of this technology is to give everyone an equal opportunity to be recognised as a great candidate for a job, regardless of background, gender or race.  Given the increased awareness on the importance of hiring impartially, businesses have more need than ever to ensure they’re reflecting this in the interview process. Good luck!

Gema Ruiz de HuydobroAbout the author

Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro is an accomplished business psychologist with over ten years experience in both academic and business fields. In her current role as I-O Psychology Consultant at HireVue Gema is responsible for designing scientifically validated pre-hire assessments to enable organisations to identify high quality candidates while minimising bias in the selection process.


How robotics competitions can help get girls into STEM

young Japanese girl making friends with robot

As the Competition Support Manager for VEX Robotics in the UK, Bridie Gaynor has witnessed first-hand the positive impact educational robotics can have on primary and secondary students.

Bridie’s role requires her to travel frequently around the UK to facilitate the smooth running of local and regional events, with the competition season culminating every year for the VEX UK National Finals in March. These events are comprised of the VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) and the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC), designed respectively for schoolchildren at Key Stage 2 & 3 and Key Stages 3 to 5. Whilst VIQC robots are created by teams of students using plastic, snap-together parts, and VRC robots are built with metal & steel parts, both platforms feature impressive control systems, including a brain that can be programmed using VEXcode IQ Blocks (powered by Scratch Blocks) or VEXcode Text.

What is perhaps most striking about the competitions that Bridie attends is the increasing number of young females who are participating. At the 2019 VEX UK National Finals, more than 50 per cent of the 700 students competing were female, a highly promising figure considering the current STEM shortage and the level of engineering, programming and design skills required to compete. Bridie hopes that she can inspire even more females to take part in the future, as the events continue to grow in stature:

“It’s amazing to think just how many female students are getting involved in VEX competitions and at such a young age, particularly when you consider the lack of gender diversity in STEM industries.”

“What makes VEX stand out from the crowd is the perfectly balanced practical and theoretical aspects of both the VEX IQ system and VEX EDR system.”

“We need to be showing girls that engineering, coding and tech isn’t just for boys, it’s for everyone and there’s so many different avenues in STEM to discover.”

Having worked at VEX Robotics for over six years, Bridie has been part of the journey of several all-girls teams who have been successful in serving as ambassadors for STEM in the wider community, including East Barnet’s Girls of Steel and Welwyn Garden City’s Microbots, both of whom have shared their experiences with tech-industry heavyweights form across the globe.

With the growth of the VEX community and the increasing uptake of female students competing overall, Bridie says it’s important to have more women in leadership roles like her to inspire the future generations:

“What’s fantastic about my job is that I get to serve as something of a role model that girls can look up to.”

“It’s great to be in a position where aspiring STEM students can see that women can really succeed in these industries and take charge of what is typically a male-dominated environment.”

“I truly believe that robotics systems like VEX give females a chance to get involved in STEM in a fun, exciting and engaging capacity, whilst setting students up for future careers in STEM”.

Bridie Gaynor featuredAbout the author

Bridie Gaynor is the Competition Support Manager in the UK for VEX Robotics.

She is responsible for supporting VEX events and teams across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.


Why work at Invesco?

Invesco - Why Work At

Invesco is a global independent investment management firm dedicated to delivering an investment experience that helps people get more out of life.

Our distinctive investment teams deliver a comprehensive range of active, passive and alternative investment capabilities.

Invesco has 18 locations in the UK, Ireland, Continental Europe, and the United Arab Emirates.

Over the years, they’ve grown to become one of the largest and best-regarded investment managers in EMEA. The keys to their continuing success are a relentless commitment to investment excellence and a focus on helping investors achieve their goals.

What makes Invesco such a special place to work?

Invesco is a dynamic company, offering a variety of tools to support career advancement, including ongoing learning and development and internal career opportunities. We’re proud to be a firm that achieves more together. One that is focused on doing what matters. One that gives a voice to every employee. One that genuinely cares. By coming together to share our ideas, listen and challenge each other’s perspective, we get to better solutions for our clients. Our ambition is high, but together we have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact.

How do you embrace diversity at Invesco?

Our workplace is one where everyone feels equally valued and respected. We believe in breaking down barriers and supporting each other. Not only as colleagues, but as individuals with unique ideas, perspectives, wants and needs. A sense of belonging is at the core of our culture.

At Invesco, there are four key components to our D&I strategy, focusing on:

  • Purpose & Priorities: Ensuring D&I is a key part of who we are and how we operate
  • Talent: Enhancing diversity and representation by focusing on the recruitment and advancement of diverse colleagues
  • Belonging: Ensuring an inclusive culture where all colleagues feel safe and supported
  • Client & Community: Moving our industry and our communities forward

Do you have an internal women’s network at Invesco?

Yes, at Invesco we have an Invesco Women’s Network (Global)

What do you look for in a potential candidate?

  • People with diverse perspectives, who can bring different ways of thinking and challenge the “norm.”
  • People who share our passion for excellence, can work effectively as part of our team and have the drive and ambition to succeed.
  • People with intellectual curiosity, resilience, and the ability to collaborate with a lot of diverse people.
  • Self-starters, with an entrepreneurial spirit, who are willing to embrace change.
  • We’re looking for people who have fresh perspectives. Who can come together to share ideas, listen and challenge each other to achieve better solutions for our clients.

What benefits or reward programmes do you provide for employees?

Competitive salary & bonus

Generous pension provisions

Volunteering days

Competitive salary & bonus

Income protection

Enhanced parental leave

Competitive salary & bonus

Health & wellness benefits

Life insurance

Tell us a little about your values and how these are evidenced in working practice?

At Invesco, we value teamwork, coming together with colleagues to build better solutions for clients.

What is your approach to flexible working?

Invesco champions a collaborative and inclusive culture, with flexible working options as appropriate. We recognize that everyone is different and that the way that we deliver at our best is unique to each of us. We ensure that our teams represent a broad range of experiences and backgrounds in order to promote diversity of thought in a positive, engaging work environment.

Discover more about a career at Invesco:


Career in STEM

Apprenticeships: Championing alternative routes into STEM careers

It is widely known that the tech industry is made up of only 17 per cent women and that less girls study subjects in Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM).

So with fewer females in the pipeline what are companies doing to attract students to join their firms and why would an A-Level student choose an apprenticeship in STEM rather than attend university?

We asked a selection of experts from technology and engineering to share their experiences of recruiting young people.

Jenny Taylor, ‎UK Graduate, Apprenticeship and Student Programme Manager at IBM, said: “We should of course not deter students from entering university, but we need to educate them about all the options available for their career path.”

Taylor said there is no denying that there is a lack of uptake across STEM subjects as well as a huge gender imbalance within industries requiring these skills.

“For many years now, only a small percentage of females have been attracted to working in the technology industry, and as leader of IBM’s graduate, student and apprenticeship programmes, I am passionate about addressing the situation. The business case for diversity in the workplace is very clear and at IBM we focus particularly on engaging and inspiring younger girls through our Girls’ Schools’ Outreach programme,” she said.

Taylor explained that one of IBM’s current employees – Sadie Hawkins – was inspired to join the IBM apprenticeship programme after attending one of the company’s school outreach events: “She then went on to achieve the National Apprentice of the Year Award 2013, which we are extremely proud of. Sadie is now an integral member of the team within our Global Business Services Division.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to encourage uptake in STEM disciplines and it is clear there needs to be more championing of alternative routes into successful roles with a clear career progression.”

Elaine Rowlands, Head of HR at PCMS, a retail technology developer, is just as passionate about apprenticeship programmes.

She said: “I am passionate about apprenticeships being a credible alternative to university for women looking to break into the tech world – particularly in a fast-paced industry like retail technology, where new products are shaping the consumer experience every day.

“Apprentices have an immediate edge by going straight into on-the-job training, gaining the real-life work experience essential to thrive in a competitive sector.”

Bradbury Group Ltd a UK manufacturer of steel doors, security grilles and cages and currently employees three female apprentices; two work in its technical department and another is a member of its marketing team.

Paul Sweeting, Technical Director at Bradbury Group Ltd, said: “Recruiting technical staff can be a struggle, so we want anyone — male or female — to feel that they’re welcome to join our team if they have the necessary skills or drive to learn.”

Sweeting said it can be difficult to find women for its technical roles, due to the lack of women coming through the pipeline: “It’s more difficult to find female candidates for our technical department, likely due to the fact that engineering has long been considered a male-oriented field.

“Therefore, we make an effort to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering. For example, we supported National Women in Engineering Day 2016 through our social media channels and website. Plus, we published two blog posts written by our female technical apprentices about their experiences with our company.”

Bradbury Group Ltd has been working on its strategy to recruit and retain young talent in general: “When we began recruiting apprentices, North Lindsey College helped us access and review potential students. We ran an open day and 20 students applied for positions. Six were successful and joined the Bradbury Engineering Academy, which our female apprentices are a part of.

“We recognise that these young people have become valuable assets to the company and we want to give them a career. Therefore, they’ll all be offered full-time jobs with us after completing their training.”

A new centre has opened in Oxfordshire aimed at tackling the skills shortages faced by technology and engineering companies in the area.

The centre will train 125 young people annually and is a joint venture between the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Training provider JTL has been appointed to manage the centre.

The training aims to create ‘work ready’ trainees, apprentice engineers and lab technicians through training in the workplace. As a not-for-profit, all funds are set to be invested back into delivering training.

David Martin, UKAEA’s Chief Operating Officer and ex-apprentice himself, said: “With the support of high tech sector companies in the area, Oxford Advanced Skills will help resolve the critical skills shortages we are currently experiencing. This venture highlights how seriously we take the need for exceptional quality young people making it into the workforce in this area.

“JTL has huge experience in providing work-based learning across England and Wales, with over 6,000 apprentices currently working towards qualifications with them across the building services engineering sector.”

Jon Graham is JTL’s Chief Executive, said: “These are really exciting times for apprentices in the Oxford area. We have been working in Oxfordshire for many years but decided recently that in order to be able to provide the quality of training that young people deserved we needed to launch our own training facilities, which we have now achieved with our premises at Culham.

“Through the work we do there and what UKAEA have seen while on site, it became obvious that there was an opportunity to expand our remit and join with UKAEA to develop this new facility, targeting exceptional young people who are needed by high technology companies operating in Oxford and the Thames Valley.”

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IT short courses instead of apprenticeships

David Baker, Director of Datrix Training, said in today’s market we are saturated with technology, and IT skills are more important than ever.

He noted that in the competitive job market skills such as word-processing, using databases, spreadsheets, using the Internet, social media & email and even designing rudimentary self-publication web pages are often asked of as standard.

“Currently the UK is facing an IT skills gap which is affecting businesses ability to grow, thankfully more of us are showing an interest in gaining further IT skills in order to bridge this gap,” Baker said.

“Gaining digital and IT skills is a great way to equip yourself with employability armour, currently two fifths of UK businesses are having trouble recruiting staff with suitable skills to drive their business. A technical IT course, from Microsoft Office to Java Fundamentals is right for any business as the need to succeed in the digital market becomes a key part of all company’s success. These skills will be learned through university or an apprenticeship but can also be accessed through short term flexible learning courses that suit millennial living.”

Baker said gaining technical skills through a short-term course is a great way to jumpstart your career and “give you that digital edge without the commitment to a three or four year course.

“These can often be more suitable than university courses as they don’t have as much ‘red tape’ and the syllabus can evolve quickly with the demands of the IT skills market, always ensuring the courses are up to date. The digital age isn’t slowing down and gaining IT skills that are highly relevant in today’s world is a great way to increase confidence, improve employability and drive career success in a market that’s crying out to hire skilled candidates.”

Lynne Downey, Head of Online Learning at University College of Estate Management, said increasing numbers of industries, such as engineering and chartered surveying, are now focusing on widening participation – both in gender, ethnicity and more.

“This current drive to accommodate employees outside the usual demographic empowers women to pick and choose the facets of both academic education and vocational training that best suit their needs – and find viable solutions for their career path. However, the decision between attending a university and taking an apprenticeship is not as clear-cut as it once was, with many alternative options now available.”

She added: “A traditional degree programme can be the right choice for someone interested in a field of study that focuses on sharing knowledge and carrying out research. Yet for those who want to ‘earn while they learn’, the option to study a degree programme online is becoming increasingly popular. While an apprenticeship may suit someone with an interest in a more vocational field, an apprenticeship programme that takes a blended learning approach – with the opportunity to gain a degree and become accredited in the field – may be the best option all round.”

“Both traditional universities and apprenticeships providers are widening their scopes each year, and opening up more and more varied options for following a career path. With this in mind, it’s essential that the individual chooses a route which best suits their skills and ambitions; whether it’s studying a traditional degree, joining an apprenticeship scheme – or a mix of both – the options are no longer just either attending an institution every day or combining classroom education with a job.”

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female scientist looking at microscope slide, women in STEM

Encouraging women in STEM: What can leaders do?

female scientist looking at microscope slide, women in STEM

Article provided by Ewa Ambrosius, Associate Engineer, Perega

I recently read an article in the FT about the book Confidence Culture by Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill, which explores how some organisations excuse the lack of women making significant career progression, by turning the mirror back on women themselves, citing low self-esteem and imposter syndrome.

Rather than engage in any meaningful introspection, this view means companies can continue operations as usual, undervaluing women and reinforcing inequality. The article references a number of other authors who write about confidence at work, including one who notes a tendency for leaders to mistake the trait for competence.

It got me thinking about the ongoing challenges STEM companies and leaders have trying to recruit more women, and the way that, as they progress through secondary school, girls become increasingly less likely to consider a career in engineering. I found myself asking the question: do leaders in schools and workplaces unintentionally discourage girls and women from pursuing STEM subjects, and jobs, by projecting their assumptions about what competence and enthusiasm should look like?

Uncivil engineering

My university experience was a wake-up call to blatantly sexist attitudes towards women in engineering. While the course itself had a good proportion of women (40% approx.), the lecturers were all men with outdated, traditional views. Alongside generally less support, we had to put up with jokes about how we, as women, wouldn’t finish the course. I can tell you, it required a thick skin to put up with, and complete, the five-year master degree course.

This was a stark contrast to high school, where I had the support of fantastic teachers who opened our eyes to a wide range of subjects and possibilities, regardless of our gender. An environment where we weren’t discouraged from anything.

While STEM outreach, such as careers activities, makes a demonstrable, positive difference to young people’s interest in engineering, I wonder what impact it would have if teachers and business leaders took the time to reflect on their own behaviours and interactions, and how they might be influencing the interests and success of those around them.

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Leaders, over to you

With that in mind, here are a few steps leaders can take to encourage girls and women in STEM:

  • Challenge your assumptions about what competence and interest look like

Don’t fall into the trap of confusing confidence with competence. Look for other indicators of a creative, engineering-led mind and find moments to celebrate these. Is a student good at thinking outside the box, proving themselves, representing problems and solutions visually? Just because they don’t shout about it, doesn’t mean they aren’t talented or interested. Sometimes it’s the quiet student at the back of a classroom who never puts up their hand who is absorbing the most, eager to learn more. Unless teachers actively find ways to engage with them, there’s a good chance that interest will wane.

The same goes in the workplace. Leaders should consider different ways of enabling employee contributions. Meetings, whether online or in person, can unintentionally silence some voices. Is there a way to get feedback over email, or in smaller or one-to-one discussions?

  • Take an active, holistic approach to assessment and appraisals

Despite a widespread understanding that it’s not best practice, assessment methods in schools, and even the workplace, continue to be relatively limited and, subsequently, exclusionary.

While there are increasingly more pathways for students at college which assess coursework rather than exam performance, there is little variety in earlier Key Stages. I believe many STEM teachers would uncover hidden interests and abilities if they broadened their assessment toolkit to appeal to more learning types.

At work, managers should seek to paint a fuller picture when undertaking employee appraisals. This might mean: collecting client or customer feedback, making time for one-to-one discussions with employees for performance analysis, and creating regular opportunities for immediate feedback, as opposed to annual or biannual meetings.

  • Make small changes with the potential for big differences

The pandemic fast forwarded the shift towards remote and hybrid working, putting the spotlight on the ways in which flexible working can improve female progression and participation at work. Offering flexible start and finish times and compressed hours, a range of options for social or training events and adopting asynchronous meetings can help support not just women, but all employees with their personal responsibilities and mental wellbeing. However, flexible and hybrid working should be implemented carefully, with a plan to mitigate potential issues such as proximity bias.

While there’s less opportunity and demand to offer similar flexibility in schools, STEM teachers can consider flexibility around when extracurricular activities are offered. If after school activities have low female attendance, try rescheduling to before school or during lunchtime. During lessons, take a structured approach to group activities, strategically assigning responsibilities to ensure boys and girls alike have the chance to try different roles.


Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding

What’s holding you back? Debunking misconceptions around women in tech

Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding, women in tech

By Magda Domagala – Experience Strategist @ UNIT9: global brand innovation / Tech Co of the Year 2020 & 2021

Growing up, I was completely wrapped-up in the Internet and gaming culture.

My teenage years were defined by evenings spent alone in my room, just me, my laptop and the infinite opportunities waiting to be explored behind the screen. I was a passionate tech user. Yet it never occurred to me that a career in tech could be for me. Tech roles seemed too complex and unattainable, and the industry too male-dominated.

After an education in an advertising-related field, I landed my first job at a consultancy agency during my last year of university. While I felt satisfied with the cultural field, I missed the excitement of tech. It wasn’t until last year, when researching sexism in the tech industry for an article, that I got the opportunity to speak to some female tech leaders. They painted a picture of an industry filled with curiosity, creativity and passion, telling me there were some challenges they experienced as women, but how they overcame them to find joy and fulfilment.

This completely changed my perspective and helped me unpack the misconceptions that held me back from working in tech. These conversations changed my own career path: I’m now two-months into a new role as an Experience Strategist at award-winning tech company, UNIT9, and any past apprehensions have been allayed. If you’re considering a job in tech, but something is holding you back, I’ll let you in on some of the myth-busting that helped me:

Misconception 1: I need to be highly knowledgeable about tech before starting a career in this industry.

The clue is in the heading  – you are starting a new career, and no one expects you to be an expert.

The tech industry, with all its intimidating jargon, is sometimes seen as impenetrable without insider knowledge. But I’ve found you can learn the language very quickly. Colleagues are extremely welcoming, curious and forward-thinking people who are genuinely excited about creating great work and helping you along the way.

Technology is constantly evolving, so a tech career comes with continuous learning. Unless you’re considering a role closely tied to something very niche, like a specific programming language, there are plenty of opportunities open for exploration – providing you are curious and willing to learn. A keen interest is just as important as past knowledge or experience and justifies your place as much as anyone else’s.

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She Can STEM

Misconception 2: The tech world is almost exclusively a ‘boy’s club’.

Whilst the tech industry does have a reputation for being male-dominated, it’s certainly not exclusively so.

With only 22 per cent able to name a famous female working in technology, it’s important to remember that history paints a different picture. The first person to publish an algorithm designed to be executed by a computer back in 1843 was a woman: leading programming engineer, Ada Lovelace. In 1952, Grace Hopper laid the foundations for modern programming languages with the first compiler that translated mathematical code into a machine-readable version. And Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr, is perhaps more notably the inventor of the technology that forms the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth.

That said, more work definitely needs to be done to close the gender gap. A recent report from PWC found women make up only 15 per cent of STEM roles in the UK. The cause can be traced right back to school, where girls are far less likely to study STEM subjects than boys – a trend that continues into higher education. Impactful interactive initiatives such as the Ad Council’s She Can Stem Minecraft activation are helping to drive change and encourage young girls to seek STEM careers. This will hopefully help us paint a different picture in the coming years.

Misconception 3: The bar will be set too high for me to keep up.  

Even though it’s hard to swallow, there seems to be a common feeling amongst women that we are simply not good enough for certain roles.

Internalised social constructs are to blame. Take neurosexism – the misconception that there are indisputable differences between male and female brains – which leads to the perception that women are inferior and unsuitable for certain roles, including those in the tech industry.

Imposter Syndrome is also prevalent, and it’s ironically regularly recognised amongst high achievers. The term, coined by psychologists, essentially describes a feeling of inadequacy and shame about ‘fluking’ your way to success – acting the part rather than earning it. This tends to take its grip at key moments within a career – especially when starting a new job. A recent study by KPMG shows 6 in 10 women have experienced this phenomenon during transitions to new roles, and it seems to be a gendered issue.

Reframing these psychological traps can be challenging, but we deserve to go after what we want. Next time you’re doubting your abilities, ask yourself if you actually have a reason to, or if it’s just your inner critic fuelled by one of these misconceptions. Women are more than capable of forging their own success in the tech industry. We just have some extra obstacles to overcome along the way.