Ceejay Momoh featured

From operations to agile delivery: Solving problems for citizens

Ceejay MomohCeejay Momoh is an agile delivery manager in the integrations team at DWP Digital. She’s based in Manchester, and joined DWP Digital in March 2018.

She says: “I’m an agile delivery manager, which entails leading on agile and lean practices for my team, removing impediments and just ensuring team health. I make sure my team can get on with building great services.”

Ceejay has been a civil servant for a few years, but only recently moved into delivering digital services.

“I studied microbiology at university,” she says, “and went on to a career in the health service in the laboratory. I dabbled in teaching, then joined the civil service.

“I actually worked on the front line in operations for about five or six years, then joined the Digital and Technology fast stream. I wanted to build great services, and to make life and the experiences of my colleagues on the front line easier. I thought ‘we can do this better’ and, hey, why not volunteer and do that?”

Scale and variety

Ceejay was already a civil servant when she joined DWP Digital, and she knew the challenges facing colleagues and customers at the front line of services.

“I’d worked in operations, so I knew the impact our services have on people’s lives. All of us are going to use DWP services at some point, so the scale is massive, and there’s a lot of variety of projects. In just over a year of being in DWP Digital, I’ve already worked on infrastructure, building software, and agile delivery.

“Initially I was worried about not having the skills. But the team were so welcoming, and I had the support of senior delivery managers, and a whole community of delivery managers.

“Agile is a mindset. If you come from any other background, it takes some adjustment to get into that mindset. I don’t have formal authority in the team structure, but I need to influence them.

“That was a difficult challenge, but I eventually got there.”

Delivering for impact with the integrations team

Although Ceejay was completely new to agile, she was given a project, along with the support of mentors, coaches, and self-led learning. She trained in agile methodology, including Scrum, Kanban, and sprint planning.

“I love applying learning to my work, so that was really interesting for me,” she says. “I set about learning as much as possible in a short space of time, using the 70-20-10 rule of formal and informal learning.

“I was networking at agile meetups in Manchester, watching videos about Scrum, going to community of practice meetings. Just talking to other delivery managers – I found that really helpful.”

Ceejay’s team – integration services – has nine members. As well as an agile delivery manager, there’s a digital delivery manager, product owner, business analyst, software engineers, Dev Ops engineers, and a user researcher.

“We’re currently working on the strategic API exchange platform, which is a solution for the whole of DWP,” says Ceejay.

“Our overall aim is to improve the experience for our end-user. For example, one of the projects I worked on reduced the average application process for claimants from two hours to 20 minutes, though a simplified triage process.”

Using innovations and technology to solve problems

Working with new innovations and technology is one of the things Ceejay finds interesting and rewarding in her role. Particularly when there’s a positive impact on the end-user.

“Sharing and reusing technology and systems is a key thing for us,” she says. “We’re currently exploring the Mulesoft Anypoint Platform, in order to migrate our API gateway and API portal.

“Ultimately, the benefit of that will be that people in DWP Digital will be able to log on to the API portal and look for something they can use, instead of building their own APIs from scratch.”

Life in the Manchester hub

DWP Digital delivers its services from six hubs across the country. Ceejay works in the Manchester hub, which she says is a fantastic collaborative space.

“I remember walking in here and thinking how big, bright, and open it is,” she says. “There are loads of shared spaces, big meeting rooms, and it’s flexible, so it lends itself to collaboration.”

Ceejay says she’s still enjoying life in the civil service, and the move into digital has given her new and varied experiences.

She says, “I’ve gone from software engineering to infrastructure during my time at DWP Digital. There’s a huge breadth of work to get involved in, and lots of opportunities to do different things.”

She’s also enjoying “working from home, which had me re-thinking wellness and wellbeing. I was now in a position to take advantage of the 24 hours in a day. I took up running good for my mental and physical health, created time for self -development and fully took advantage of the day. The resultant productivity in terms of time management has been truly liberating. I have found working more fun with less pressure.”

“I have 24 hours to do it and the autonomy within reason to do it at a pace that works for me.”

DWP Digital’s specialists use their digital skills to play a fulfilling and meaningful role in the future of our society. To join us, visit DWP Digital Careers site or subscribe to their newsletter to keep up to date with the latest roles and information.


#TechFT Live

Get an exclusive 20 per cent discount off the Financial Time's #TechFT Live

#TechFT Live

#TechFT Live is the Financial Times’ first technology summit, taking place virtually, alongside Europe’s leading tech festival, the TNW Conference.

Across two days and 20+ hours of exclusive FT curated content, #TechFT Live will explore new ways to harness what we have learned about digitisation amid lockdowns and provide insight on the key technology trends for the year ahead.

Alongside the FT’s expert commentators and 30+ industry-leading speakers, this summit will gather over 2,000 leading business innovators and policymakers to explore key issues including, the evolution of quantum, the ethics of AI, shifting market alliances, the sustainability of digital, and emerging global tech hotspots.

Join us at FT’s inaugural tech summit on 30 September – 1 October and get full digital access to the TNW Conference. Discover how technology is transforming business and society.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to confirm we have 20 per cent discount to attend. To claim your discount, register below using the discount code DIGIWATC.

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Five reasons to become a coder in your 30s

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to code

The opportunities and benefits within the tech industry have long been a draw to job seekers.

Indeed, the ONS reported in 2019 that the tech industry had amongst the highest number of job vacancies, increasing salaries and attractive flexible working benefits. And as a largely digitised industry it is no surprise that it has fared relatively well in lockdown with a high proportion of employees able to work from home.

But if you ever thought coding was a young person’s game and not for you, think again. Coding attracts recruits from far outside traditional STEM-based careers and education. In fact, students from Wild Code School, a web development and coding school, are upskilling and career changing from diverse backgrounds that range from dance and textile design to chemical engineering, gaming and communications.

And it’s not just school leavers or people early in their careers – in fact it’s people in their 30s who are leading the charge.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO and Founder of Wild Code School, explains the five reasons people in their 30s are turning to coding:

  • It’s not rocket science – there is an increasing awareness that you don’t have to be a Matrix-inspired hyper-brain to work in tech, and as 30-somethings have inevitably come into contact with the digital world in their existing careers – they’re wanting to get involved and understand how it works.
  • Coding is creative – while the initial draw might be the competitive salaries, we find what keeps people interested is the realisation that coding is a highly-creative industry that allows a person to problem solve and bring their own ideas to fruition.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility – people in their 30s who no longer want to work for someone else are realising that the tech industry provides options to go freelance, to choose their own clients and the flexibility to work from where they want.
  • Being a part of what happens next – from the way we consume music and media, eat out, work from home, communicate and stay fit, the tech industry is changing the way we live, and touches all aspects of our lives. Being a part of that is exciting.
  • In-demand skills – there is a widely-discussed skills gap in the tech industry, and we work with employers to understand what they are looking for and how to ensure training is commercially relevant. They are skills sought by a diverse range of companies and will become increasingly important.

“It’s a myth that if you didn’t get into coding at school, then it’s already too late,” Anna says. “If you’ve got the creativity and the drive, then we’ve got the school to help you realise your ambition.”

During the month of August 2020, anyone curious about tech, passionate about learning or considering a new professional career can register to Wild Code Summer School. Week after week, it is offering a month-long programme dedicated to discovering the tech world.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


female coder, coding, National Coding Week

Why National Coding Week is for the women

female coder, coding, National Coding Week

In today’s digital age, coding is becoming less of a rare skill, and more of a basic literary skill. If you think about it, without code, there is no software, and without software, there are no computers. 

But as with seemingly every STEM subject and industry, there is an underwhelming percentage of women making up the amount of coders out there. This is surprising considering the first coder in the early 20th century was a woman! Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Annie Easley are just three examples of great women who knew how to code.

So why is there still such a tiresome gender gap? WeAreTechWomen spoke to five women in STEM – all at different stages of their careers – to hear their thoughts, reasonings and advice as to why coding isn’t just for the boys.

Starting at school

Sam Humphries HeadshotAs Sam Humphries, Security Strategist at Exabeam explains, “The technology industry has transformed considerably over the last few years, and with it brings the emergence of a new standard of employee: modern-day technologists who must possess creativity, innovation, and be talented technical problem solvers. Coders encompass these skills, responsible for both constructing complex solutions from scratch, and navigating any obstacles that come their way. Their unique skillset means employees with coding abilities are now integral personnel in the modern workforce.”

Being able to code is a skill that will only heighten in value. As Humphries goes on to confirm, “access to digital skills is a crucial enabler of digital transformation, fuelling increased demand for people with the skills to manage evolving technologies such as AI and cloud. However, despite digital skills becoming ever more important in today’s economy, according to the CBI, two thirds of businesses already have unfilled digital skills vacancies and 58 per cent say they’ll need significantly more digital skills in the next five years.

“National Coding Week serves as a great way to promote the importance of coding skills for our current and emerging business landscape. It also contributes a fun solution to help encourage young people, especially young women, to pursue a career in technology. Women represent a small percentage of the technology workforce, which makes looking for skills in an all-but untapped female talent pool an obvious solution. By encouraging women and girls with the possibilities of an education and career in technology, we can help address the skills shortage by introducing new perspectives and problem-solving skills to the industry.”

Building a career

Hannah AlexanderThe ability to code is a skill that is beneficial in many different organisations, and can open many different doors. Hannah Alexander, Graduate Data Scientist at Mango Solutions shares her reasons for choosing data science as her first role after university: “Data science is such a rapidly developing field that it is easy to feel at the forefront of innovation. It is applicable in a vast variety of areas, so there is always something exciting developing and to contribute towards.

“Code underpins our everyday lives, from taking the train to work to flicking through Instagram,” Alexander continues. “However, very few people understand how this works. By learning how to code, you get a better understanding of the modern world! Code can be applied to any workplace. Menial tasks can be automated, tasks can be undertaken more efficiently, and you can become a more valuable member of the workforce.

“Unfortunately, I think there is a misconception amongst the younger generation that working with code or in STEM is dull, when in reality it’s anything but. The boring office worker stereotype should be broken by showcasing the exciting opportunities these jobs can provide, such as travel, global events and the opportunity to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

Isabel HutchingsThis idea around STEM being dull for girls is something that Isabel Hutchings, Applications Engineer at Content Guru agrees with. Hutchings explains:

“As a woman working in a technical role, National Coding Week is a time for myself and probably many of my fellow female colleagues to reflect on the lack of women in the industry. It’s an issue as obvious in 2020 as it has been for many years and one that shows no signs of changing soon. Indeed, recent A-level and GCSE results showed a continued gender divide in students taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Today’s students are the foundation of tomorrow’s workforce and when it comes to encouraging girls into careers in coding and other technical job roles, the gender divide in most of these key subjects is still a telling reflection of a grass-roots issue we need to solve.

“Being an engineering graduate and now working as an applications engineer, I know first-hand how hard it can be for girls to make the decision to pursue a career in things like coding and engineering. The education system as a whole needs to do more to build not only awareness and knowledge about what coding can be as a career – but passion in the subjects more generally. Young girls are at a particularly impressionable age at school, with relatively fluid perceptions of what they want to do in the future, so it’s important to capture students’ imaginations. Unfortunately, we’re not yet getting this right. Until we expand the perception of coding in young people – particularly girls – and unlock the hidden passion in students to pursue the many opportunities this area offers, we can expect to see the same stark statistics year after year.”

Elizabeth BrownElizabeth Brown, Professional Placement Student, Data Science at Mango Solutions, is someone who is currently making this decision. Brown explains: “I chose to do a work placement with Mango because in a world where data is abundant, it is vital that we stay data driven - and data science allows us to do this. I ultimately wanted a job in coding as I really enjoy it! Coding is an important skill to learn as we are constantly surrounded by computers and what they produce, and so being able to write code is a great advantage. The idea of coding and where to start with it can be daunting sometimes and so making it easier and more comfortable for people to start learning to code would help encourage the younger generation into it."

It’s never too late to learn to code

Although encouraging the younger generation into choosing STEM at schools is a great way to help close the gender gap, you don’t have to be a teenager to be able to begin to learn to code. Essentially, learning to code is learning a new skill – something you’re never too old to do!

Svenja de Vos LeasewebSvenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global explains that, “Coding is and will remain a skill for everyone to learn, it’s not just for the male part of our population. In fact, Ada Lovelace is still remembered today as the world’s first computer programmer. When it comes to coding and programming, technical accuracy and creativity marry well together. Coders support organisations across various industries from healthcare and manufacturing to cybersecurity. With a notable rise in cyber attacks, exacerbated by the global pandemic, the latter is absolutely vital. Those able to analyse their company’s IT infrastructure for potential vulnerabilities due to their skillset, will be in high demand.”

De Vos rounds things off nicely by additionally sharing the following advice: “National Coding Week is an opportunity to shine a light on how important, and how much fun, it is to learn to code and take an interest in technology as the world around us constantly evolves. With various coding platforms and language courses available for both younger and older learners, you can start learning to code at any age.

“With the digital skills gap growing, it’s crucial that schools and universities support their students in learning to code to help widen future pools of developers."


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


School of Code Mentor

Calling all developers, the School of Code needs YOU!

School of Code Mentor

Are you passionate about tech? Do you want to get involved in helping to shape, and inspire, your region’s next generation of coders? Yes! Then School of Code need you.

School of Code are launching their free software developer bootcamp across the country on 15 November 2021 and  are looking for 192 mentors, (yes that did say 192!),  to help them make a massive impact.

They will be taking a group of people from all walks of life through their free, life-changing, intensive course and turning them into something special…Job ready junior developers.

School of Code are looking for mentors, both veteran and brand new, to volunteer 30 minutes per week, to support them as they navigate their first steps into the world of tech!

As a SoC Mentor you’ll get to share your knowledge, get the buzz of making a positive difference and it doesn’t look too shabby on your CV either.  If this would be your first time volunteering as a mentor, fear not as you will be supported every step of the way.

The November bootcamps will cover the following areas – North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, London and South East.

To get involved,  register below and start your School of Code mentoring journey today!

REGISTER HERE

Interested in applying for the School of Code bootcamp instead?


There are no prerequisites to apply and no previous experience required – those applying for the course don’t even need to have seen a line of code before.

School of Code takes a learner from beginner to software developer in just 16 weeks before helping them find their first role in tech.

Already this year, during the pandemic lockdowns, they have successfully helped 62 people go from zero to programmer and started their professional tech careers.

APPLY HERE

From charity to coding: Why it’s never too late to change your career  

It was on my return from travelling South America with my fiancé that I decided I didn’t want to go back to my old career. I had spent 10 years in the charity sector and it just didn’t bring me the enthusiasm that I had experienced when I first set out.

Beyond that I didn’t have a clue, I just tried to be as open minded as possible.

What I could never have imagined was that, age 30, I’d be an apprentice software developer – and, on top of that, loving it!

Not only did I think apprenticeships were for much younger people, but I had never shown any interest in IT. I had all these preconceptions about it, I hadn’t any interest in computers and didn’t think it was very sociable. Even though my boyfriend was a software engineer, I just never thought it was for me.

After spending weeks trawling networking events and workshops, I stumbled across a one day coding course put on by a global charity called Django Girls, where I learned how to build a blog site. I thought knowing how to build a website would look good on my CV, but when I had a go myself I really got into it – I wanted to know more, how and why.

Suddenly I became excited about it, I thought about all the other things I could do with these new skills and how I could achieve it. I hadn’t gone looking for coding, but it was like something clicked – I was suddenly interested in it all.

The next step was having the confidence to apply for an apprenticeship.

The workshop I had taken part in held at Code Nation, a Manchester-based software development and apprenticeship provider and coding school. Through them I learned about a role at EMIS Health.

The company is the UK’s leading provider of software to the NHS – supporting more than 10,000 organisations including GP practices, community pharmacists and hospital trusts in their daily work on the frontline.  It has played a key role supporting service delivery during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company runs an apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Code Nation, giving applicants the opportunity to train and then become junior software developers.

I didn’t expect to get it. I’m not someone who’s had a passion for coding my whole life or knew an awful lot about it, but because I enjoyed it so much I decided it was worth applying for – and I’m glad I did! Something I’ve learned since is that EMIS Health is very keen on getting women into the tech industry, and they weren’t looking for someone with all the answers, they just wanted someone with problem solving skills and a passion for it.

I started the course with Code Nation in September 2019 and started my full time role as a junior software developer with EMIS Health in January.

There’s something about the industry that’s very exciting. The world is taking such strides in terms of technology advances it’s really interesting to learn about. And, contrary to my early misconceptions, it’s very sociable! You work as a team with people who share the same passions and are interested to hear about what you have discovered.

There’s also a real push to get more women into the tech industry, so if anyone is interested in either starting a new career or learning more about it, there are lots of opportunities.

As well learning new technical skills, it’s great that I’ve been able to continue making a difference to society. I worked in the charity sector because making a difference is important to me. One of my concerns with moving jobs was whether I would find something that fulfilled that side of things.

EMIS Health’s technology directly supports the frontline work of clinicians across the UK, including GPs, pharmacists and hospital trusts. I’m a small cog in a big machine, but it’s still a machine that’s making a difference and I’m proud to be part of it.

So, to anyone thinking they are too old to change their career, you can still go on to be successful in a completely new industry, there are lots of opportunities out there – you just have to take that first step!

To find out more about careers at EMIS Health, visit https://emisgroup.careers

Vicky HotchkissAbout the author

Vicky Hotchkiss, from Chorlton, in South Manchester, is one of EMIS Health’s newest apprentices - developing software that supports frontline NHS clinicians.

Originally from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, she earned a degree in environmental studies at the University of York and worked in the charity sector for around 10 years before retraining to become a junior software developer.


Avye Couloute

Inspirational Girl in Tech: Avye Couloute | Maker, coder, Tech Advocate, Social Entrepreneur & Founder, Girls Into Coding

Avye CoulouteAvye Couloute is a maker, coder, Tech Advocate, workshop leader and Social Entrepreneur.

She began attending coding & physical computing workshops at 7. Nowadays she is very active in the tech & maker community, dedicating a lot of her spare time to exploring & learning about coding & technology.

Among other activities, Avye led a regular coding & physical computing workshops for Coder Dojo at Kingston University & the University of West London and have entered and won competitions with the robots which she designs and makes.

Avye is enthusiastic about sharing her skills & experiences with others and she is an Arm ambassador, part of the GenArm2Z program which enables young people to talk to tech leaders about how technology is being used & shaped for the future.

Aware of female under-representation in STEM education & careers, Avye was motivated to found Girls Into Coding to encourage more girl involvement in tech, to offer them the opportunity to develop their digital and making skills. She has received the Diana Award, the Diana Legacy Award and the FDM EveryWoman Tech Award in the “One To Watch” category for her work to create opportunities for girls to engage with tech and for fundraising to provide girls with microcontrollers, physical computing kits & STEM themed books.

You can follow Avye and Girls Into Coding on Twitter.

Tell us a little bit about your background?

My name is Avye and I’m 13. I started coding & attending physical computing workshops at 7. They were fun, so I began joining loads of similar events and continued to explore what I was learning at home. To share my skills & experiences I started co-running coding workshops alongside two adult mentors & soon took on the responsibility for preparing & leading my own for CoderDojo at Kingston University and at other community tech events.

I noticed that the majority of attendees at my workshops were boys and so, almost three years ago I founded ‘Girls into Coding’ to get more girls into tech. I also design & build robots, and have won a couple of competitions with them. One of my wheeled robots has gone through a tonne of iterations and I use different versions of it in my different robotics workshops.

What sparked your interest in Technology?

I’ve always loved making stuff with unwanted objects, stuff from the recycling or anything that was going. I remember making a Time Machine  (not a real one). I got the family involved & together we conjured up this contraption which had loads of dials, levers and the insides of old electronic devices glued all over it. Later I would start adding basic electronic components like bulbs, buzzers & switches to make my creations more interesting. This sparked it all off and when I later discovered the microbit and components like servos and motors I saw how tech could really bring my creations to life.

Tell us a little about your social enterprise, Girls Into Coding?

I founded Girls Into Coding in 2018 and since 2020 my mum Helene has been project managing and giving the mission the full time attention it deserves. Girls into Coding offers girls aged 10-14 free opportunities to explore Coding, physical computing, robotics & 3D printing. – developing confidence & a sense of belonging in tech settings, while enabling girls to see their potential. Our overarching objective is to contribute towards a situation where girls & women are engaged in STEM activities, education & careers, equally comfortable, with an equal sense of belonging and in equal numbers.

To promote inclusivity and keep our workshop events hands-on through the pandemic, we developed materials & resources, designed & manufactured a range of robotics kits suitable for remote workshops.  We post these out to the girls along with other hardware, so they all have everything they need at home to participate in our live online workshops led by myself & our team of dedicated mentors.

What has been a highlight for you since working on Girls into Coding?

I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished with Girls Into Coding, we’ve helped to inspire more girls to give tech activities a go. I’m delighted to see more girls engaging with STEM  and that these opportunities have been  accessed by hundreds of girls throughout the UK and internationally, including girls from India, Kenya, Canada, USA, France, Ireland, Spain, Nigeria, Singapore & South Africa.

How do you manage your time with your schoolwork?

At times it’s very challenging because I have a lot to prepare, but once it’s done, it feels good. When you’ve prepared, you focus more on the outcome, and if you decide to put lots of effort into it, the outcome is going to be a better experience for all.

You have won lots of awards for your work, how does that make you feel?

Winning awards is a great feeling, it’s always a massive boost and reminds me that what I’m doing  with GIC is important and has real value. The awards always allow me to reflect on all the support & opportunities that I’ve benefited from – from different groups & individuals in the wider tech & maker community. Winning the awards really helps to raise awareness of issues that we’re trying to change.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on an IoT project for my Girls Into coding workshops.

I am also working on a personal AI project linked to reducing our use of plastic food & drink packaging . It’s very challenging, quite a slow process but I am learning a lot.

I am also working on a voice recognition project.

If you could change one thing in the world to create a better society, what would it be?

I would like people to work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from new developments more or less at the same time, so no one gets left behind.


Girls into Coding crowdfunding campaign

Help Avye empower girls through tech!

Girls Into Coding aims to engage at least 1000 girls every year with hands-on workshop opportunities and inspiring talks. This is to contribute towards addressing the gender gap in tech and to sustain girls’ interest, initially so that they continue pursuing Tech activities and ultimately, so they are engaged to consider STEM education & careers.

Crowdfunding to help give at least 1000 girls FREE access to Tech Opportunities

For Girls Into Coding to continue to make these opportunities inclusive and accessible to girls from a diverse range of backgrounds we work tirelessly throughout the year building relationships, applying for grants securing sponsorship, and fundraising.

Our target is to reach at least 1000 girls per year and so far this year we’ve reached just under 500 girls.

Through this campaign, we want to raise £10,000 to help us achieve or exceed our goal of reaching at least 1000 girls a year.

The money raised will contribute towards:

  • Delivering FREE Girls Into Coding workshop events
  • Buying components, materials, and equipment to develop new hands-on activities & resources for the workshops
  • Posting  the kits out to the girls (including return postage) for the hands-on workshops
  • Providing coding kits for girls to continue their STEM journey at home and beyond.
  • Providing STEM-related books for the girls.
  • Covering Project Management & Logistics Cost

FIND OUT MORE & DONATE

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

National Coding Week 2021 | Bringing women into tech and closing the digital skills gap

With the swift technological changes we are experiencing today,  there has never been a better time to invest in the digital skills of both children and adults.

This National Coding Week provides the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the importance of developing coding as a skill set and to consider what more we can be doing to actively encourage the younger generation, especially young girls, to engage with coding and STEM.

Svenja de Vos, LeasewebSvenja de Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global elaborates, “every year National Coding Week provides an opportunity for tech companies to do more to showcase the benefits of a career in software development. You’re never too young or too old to code, and it is important to widen future pools of developers in order to help close the tech skills gap.

“The world needs talented coders and software professionals now more than ever. Especially in the last year and a half, coding has become essential to daily life by allowing organizations to continue business operations in the face of the pandemic. Every single day, software developers come up with innovative apps that are helping to revolutionize a variety of industries. Dedicating a full week to promoting coding will hopefully influence many to further develop their skill”.

The digital skills gap 

One of the pressing reasons to encourage more people to widen their technical skills is the widening digital skills gap facing the UK. In fact, “less than half of UK employers believe new entrants to the workforce have the digital-skills required”, explains Ian Rawlings, Regional VP at SumTotal Systems. He continues, “this needs to change if the UK is to plug the existing skills gap and become a leader in technology. From mandatory coding teaching in schools, to initiatives such as Code First and the Institute of Coding, there are so many ways to develop digital skills early on and show candidates all the benefits that coding has to offer.

“Building and developing digital skills within the current workforce will also be key as the pandemic continues to accelerate the pace of digital transformation. This National Coding Week, with coding fluency growing in both value and necessity, lifelong learning remains integral in future-proofing the workforce and closing the skills gap”.

Simon Gould, Chief Product Officer, Totalmobile shares this sentiment, pointing out that “it’s important to reflect on how we can encourage both experienced employees and the younger generation to broaden their skillsets, simultaneously enhancing their own employability and closing the digital skills gap. It’s an area that resonates strongly given the interesting and varied career that has evolved since that first development role.

“Organisations, in particular, should consider what they can do to encourage the whole spectrum of gender, ethnicity and social demographic backgrounds. Many businesses can set examples by engaging in initiatives in schools and places of work to show a wide range of students what a career in tech could look like, such as Women Who Code, which a number of our staff are passionately involved in. Getting female developers, engineers and senior leaders to talk to young women and girls about their jobs and highlighting that tech can be exciting and engaging is hugely powerful. It’s an approach I see first-hand, with my daughter studying computer science at GCSE. That small acorn that grows into a passion”.

Bringing women into the tech world 

In spite of the concern surrounding the digital skills gap, there is much to be optimistic about for the future of tech. In particular, as Gould highlighted, there are many organisations placing a much-needed emphasis on inspiring young women to get involved in coding and other digital skills.

Debra Danielson_, Digital Guardian“Currently, only 14% of programmers and software developers in the UK are women, a daunting statistic that must change if we are to move forward as an industry”, Debra Danielson, CTO and SVP Engineering at Digital Guardian notes.

“Increased mentorship is one way forward for diversity. As a woman working in technology, I can say that, outside of my own dogged stubbornness, my opportunities have stemmed from having a single person willing to advocate for me. That helped me break through some of the lazy stereotypes about women in STEM… being perceived to be less technical, less mathematical than men. Our allies, supporters and advocates can help open the door, and we need vocal colleagues and managers willing to give women chances and support us on our journeys.

“Recognising the dearth of diversity in the industry, I’m passionate about increasing the participation and impact of both women and underrepresented communities in technology. I volunteer at many levels, from Tech Girls Rock (secondary school girls learning to code) to coaching and mentoring tech founders on how to access capital. We must create more space for women within the industry. National Coding Week is the perfect opportunity for leaders to connect with their teams and help women boost their skills and advance their careers.”

Angela Garland_Content GuruAngela Garland, Escalations Engineer at Content Guru, seconds this statement, “science has always made sense to me – I like the certainty of it – and I knew that’s what I wanted to do from an early age. I was raised in an engineering household and lucky enough to go to a school that encouraged girls to take GCSE and A-Level science – but then again, it was an all-girls school! We had plenty of female science teachers and role models supporting us. Sadly, I don’t think this is typical of the education system. By the time I reached university, our mechanical engineering bachelors was just 10% female. This has to change.

“We need to do much more to encourage young girls with a passion for science, coding and technology to study STEM courses – both at younger school ages and further on into higher education – and to pursue careers in these exciting and rewarding fields. The stark gender divide means it’s often challenging for women working as engineers – from application engineers to mechanical engineers and cybersecurity engineers, women are almost always in the minority.

“My advice to women embarking on a career in technology is to keep pushing and challenging at every opportunity. The most important thing is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, speak up in large groups of men and put your ideas out there. Find an organisation that puts everyone – regardless of gender – on an equal playing field and pushes you into a role where you challenge yourself and those around you”.

National Coding Week is vitally important for anyone working in or around the tech scene. Not only does it open the conversation about topics such as the digital skills gap, or women in tech, but coding is such an essential skill in today’s age it is always a good idea to reiterate its importance.

Jeff KeyesJeff Keyes, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy, Plutora concludes, “Written code has become the foundation of every organisation, no matter the size, in a rapidly and constantly changing software landscape. A skilled team of coders is imperative to not only building that foundation, but also to put businesses in the best possible position to thrive. Coding has become much more than just the developer language of tech. It’s the language of business and in turn, the language of success.”


women in tech, soft skills featured

How to de-risk career switching for women looking to take advantage of the technology skill gaps in the UK

women in tech, soft skills

Article by Fabio Forghieri, CEO and Founder, Boolean

It’s no secret we have a technology skills gap in the UK.

We are Europe’s biggest tech hub, with a large start-up ecosystems and over 100 tech unicorns, but demand for talent outstrips supply, with a recent Totaljobs survey reporting that 71% of technology employers expect to face at least a moderate skills shortage in the next 12 months.

A career as a software engineer is one that has great appeal. The demand for programming skills is on the rise as everything goes digital, and it’s a field that certainly offered more job security through the pandemic with the added benefit of flexible working options and competitive salaries.

Technology has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with a persistently low representation of women. Tech Nation’s recent survey found only 19% of people working in tech are women. On the flip-side, many employers are actively seeking to address this disproportionate representation by changing their hiring practices and engineering team environments to be more inclusive to women.

The challenge these employers face is that the traditional recruitment process relies on university graduates with computer science degrees. Not only are 80% of these graduates men, but also the three-year study period means current roles can’t be filled quickly. Any changes made today that positively impact course demographics won’t impact the hiring pool until at least 2024.

In a bid to resolve the current skills gap, employers are updating their new hire processes and considering candidates from other educational backgrounds, such as tech academies and bootcamps, creating a more accessible path for women wanting to pursue a career in software engineering.

Career switchers

This change in mindset from employers also provides a great opportunity for women looking to switch careers and reskill. University is rarely a realistic option due to the time and cost involved, whereas tech academies reduce the amount of time spent studying and are only a fraction of the price.

Those on a new career path require training that is more focused on career outcomes. Simply ‘learning to code’ isn’t enough.

There is increasing recognition that university degrees are not offering the necessary practical skills to prepare students for the life of a professional developer or keeping pace with changing industry demands.

Career switchers need a faster start. They require tailored training programmes that allow them to build and demonstrate practical, industry-ready skills to find a job.

Tech academies, like Boolean, provide a valuable service for students through hands-on training with experienced software engineering teachers with a heavy emphasis on learning by doing.

Before the pandemic, these ‘fast-track’ courses were perceived as a useful ‘first step’ towards a career in tech. However, the quality and relevance of this type of education is improving as demand for tech skills increases.

These courses now offer a very viable alternative to quickly transition into a new tech-focused career, and we’re seeing an influx of sign-ups from women wishing to move away from positions in marketing, retail and hospitality into more lucrative and flexible tech positions.

Choosing the right course

Not every tech academy is created equal. There are many options available and those serious about starting a career in tech need to find the appropriate course with the right curriculum and the right methods of teaching.

Career switchers should look for courses that teach a range of modern programming languages:

  • Javascript — the dominant language for writing full-stack web applications, and the most commonly used programming language on Stack Overflow’s developer survey for the 9th year running
  • js — allows students to create servers and APIs and build full-stack Javascript applications
  • React — currently the most widespread UI framework and highly sought after in the job market
  • Typescript — a technology growing in popularity that introduces students to statically-typed languages and the concept of types

It’s also important to choose a course that offers the right structure for you. For example, Boolean offers a six-month full-time course with live lessons and one-to-one support to accelerate the pace of learning.

Another consideration is location. Online learning offers students flexibility to fit education around their lives, yet it’s not as simple as running all your classes on Zoom. There needs to be a digital infrastructure that provides support to both students and teachers to create a positive and efficient learning environment.

Lastly, investigate whether a course provides careers support after graduation. Courses such as Boolean offer students six months of support after completing their course, to help graduates find their first job. If unsuccessful, graduates receive a full refund.

The pandemic has led to many women re-assessing their career and life choices, whether that be for opportunities to have a more fulfilling career, a greater sense of purpose in their job or flexibility for a work-life balance.

Few people have the luxury of retraining without some certainty of employment, but modern education methods are creating new, less risky options and, with closer links to industry, there has never been a better time to make that leap.


female coder, coding, National Coding Week

National Coding Week 2021 | Opening up digital skills for all

female coder, coding, National Coding Week

Monday 13th September marks the beginning of this year’s National Coding Week.

This week provides us with the perfect opportunity to reflect on the importance of digital skills and how coding can offer up a world of career opportunities for people from all backgrounds. It’s never been more important – according to latest research from World Skills UK, 76% of businesses think that a lack of digital skills will damage their bottom lines, while 88% of young people understand that they will be essential for their careers.  

But while this years’ A-Level results saw a record number of students taking up Computer Science, the subject is still far more popular with boys than girls, suggesting the technology industry has more to do to open up routes for all.  

We talked to some of the industry’s leading experts and asked them to share their thoughts:  

Firstly, coding is a valuable skill  

Kara SpragueCoding is still a highly sought-after skill in the tech industry. According to Kara Sprague, EVP and GM of BIG-IP at F5, “the influence of coding continues to disrupt and transform all industries.”  

And while new innovations will also impact how developers work in future, this will not diminish the importance of digital skills and ability to code. 

Sean FarringtonAs Sean Farrington, EVP EMEA, Pluralsight comments, “despite the rise of low and no-code application development in recent years, coding skills remain critical for businesses…”

“Even legacy languages which may be deemed out of date by many are still useful to learn.”  

James McLeod FaethmJames McLeod, VP EMEA at Faethm adds, “AI won’t ever become a direct replacement for coders – after all, we’ll still need programmers to write the very programmes that will then write code! That said, businesses should recognise where it can streamline their operations, and look to proactively transition coders and programmers into roles where human elements will be needed in the future. Coding might be changing, but through targeted skills development there’ll still be plenty of opportunities for coders in future.”  

Andrea Nagel TanzuInterestingly, the importance of digital skills goes beyond the most technical roles too. Andrea Nagel, Manager, Application Services at VMware Tanzu highlights, “There are many varied roles in tech these days that don’t require coding skills. However, gaining an exposure to coding, even at a basic or foundational level, is really useful for anyone working in software or product, even if you’re not directly coding yourself.”  

For those just starting out, Jane Saunders, Head of Model Pipeline Engineering at Secondmind advises, “My advice for anyone looking to get into coding is to just give it a go. Start with a toy problem, and then quickly move onto a personal project, giving yourself plenty of small goals along the way. Remember with coding you’re mostly talking to your future self or others who will be reading your code, rather than the computers who are executing it.”  

But there’s a talent shortage when it comes to digital skills  

Ursula MorgensternHowever, the continued demand for digital skills reflects an ongoing talent shortage in the sector too. Ursula Morgenstern, President, Global Growth Markets at Cognizant, is an advocate for tackling this, commenting, “as businesses accelerate recruitment to drive growth in the wake of the pandemic, a war for talent has arisen, with skilled individuals highly sought after but with far too few qualified personnel to fill the vacancies. You need only Google ‘software engineer’ or ‘developer’ to see thousands of roles available and unfilled in the UK. 

“This talent shortage will continue to create challenges for organisations, but also opportunities to think differently about how they manage, recruit and retain staff. Coding is the crucial baseline for many of these jobs, which should in theory broaden talent pools given its accessibility.” 

David Huntley DistributedDavid Huntley, Technical Lead at Distributed points to the rise in freelance developers who could be vital in filling this gap. “Alternatively, many developers are turning to freelance work to learn new skills, given the range of projects this working model gives them access to and the opportunity to work with other professionals in the space to cross-pollinate expertise. Another major advantage of this flexible approach to developer work is that individuals can more easily find projects that fit their current skillset, meaning they have access to well-paid work while learning on the job.” 

Could improving diversity in coding help solve the skills deficiency?  

The industry talent gap also reflects a need to open up the industry to people from diverse backgrounds too – and particularly women and young people.  

Geoff SmithGeoff Smith, CEO at emerging talent management consultancy Grayce comments, “Worryingly, figures show that just 26% of UK graduates with core STEM degrees are female. This has been a huge motivation for us to fund two women to enrol on Code Nation’s 12-week Coding Bootcamp this year in our bid to inspire more females to join the industry. It’s so important that we continue to improve diversity in tech and encouraging more people to build on their skills sets and learn to code is a huge part of this – these individuals have limitless potential to add masses of value to the UK workforce.” 

F5’s Kara Sprague also adds, “It is vital that everyone is given the opportunity to learn coding. To secure a more equitable future, we must nurture a diverse pipeline of talent that can build and excel within technology organisations. I am increasingly encouraged by how some countries have adopted requirements in their core curriculums for kids to learn coding. This bodes well for their technology sectors and job-creation abilities moving forward. Outside of formal curriculum requirements, there is also a lot of work taking place across the technology industry and non-profit sector to upskill young people, with a focus on under-represented groups.” 

Ursula MorgensternCognizant’s Ursula Morgenstern concludes, “If underserved communities are provided with the right digital and coding training from businesses, their economic mobility and wider educational opportunities in turn could significantly increase. As such, this is where businesses should be looking to invest a large proportion of their recruiting budget – looking at the long game and recognising the need and opportunity to broaden and deepen the talent pool.”