female data scientist, woman leading team

By Teodora Gavrilut, Chief Operating Officer, Creatopy

To read the headlines, you would think that we already live in a fully digital, automation and AI-driven world. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It would seem that we are woefully under-equipped to meet the promise of a tech-powered future and worse still, we’re failing to do much to change the situation.

Despite a push towards digitisation as a result of Covid, The Learning and Work Institute stated that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE in the UK has dropped 40% since 2015. It also revealed that 70% of young people expect their employers to put them on a path to digital skills, but only half of the employers surveyed were able to provide training.

Further, a report from Kaspersky suggests that half of women in the tech sector believe Covid-19 has actually delayed their career progression. When you consider that women make up less than a quarter of the UK’s core-STEM workforce and fill only 17% of tech jobs, there appears to be a dramatic reversal of fortune.

Why should gender be important at all in an industry that, at face value, is created specifically to remove the human from the equation?

Quite simply, a lack of diversity stifles innovation, holds back progress and leads to poorer technology. The insight behind technology and process design is critical. The tech is simply a tool – it takes a collective made up of different perspectives to make sure that tool is effective. To redress the imbalance, we need to create an industry that provides an inclusive pipeline of talent at every level.

We can’t wait until women enter the workforce either. Gender stereotypes in tech need to be tackled at school, with support from the business community to give young women a context for a career in technology. Educational settings need to go beyond the expected path and introduce more workshops and apprenticeship programmes so students can move beyond the theoretical.

This is not without precedent. InnovateHer is a scheme in the North West of England that has been running tech educational programmes for girls for four years now, already reaching over 1,000 girls across 50 schools. There is now an InnovateHer Online portal so girls can access the scheme remotely.

At the other end of the nation is Brixton Finishing School, the London-based accelerator that helps underserved young talent get past the traditional barriers to acquire skills in digital, creativity and marketing.

But learning doesn’t stop at the office door. Tech is going to keep evolving and skills have to change to match. According to The Future of Jobs Report, by 2022, 80% of UK companies will be using machine learning. But we’re not talking about technology replacing skilled workers. It’s an evolution. As tech changes, it’s going to change the business models it serves along with it. Roles will change and new jobs will emerge. A combination of cutting-edge technology and leading human creativity will be a heady mix and a strong driver of competitive advantage. The skills gap risks all of this.

Automation and advanced tech landscapes present an opportunity, but only if business and education are willing to meet the challenge halfway. Arguably, we don’t even have a skills gap but a skills drain – the disconnect isn’t even staying the same, it’s getting bigger. We all need to play an active role in putting the structures in place so that talent can thrive. To misquote a well-known phrase – if we don’t build it, they won’t come.

About the author

Teodora Gavriluț is the Chief Operating Officer of Creatopy. With a solid marketing background of over 15 years, she handles the company’s internal affairs. By combining analytical thinking with creative processes, Teodora believes she’s fortunate to have built a career out of her love for technology and passion for marketing.

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