By Anna Brailsford, CEO and Co-Founder of Code First Girls

As we kick off National Coding Week, there’s no better time to take a look at the current state of the UK’s tech sector – and what we need to do to make it as strong as it can be.

The tech industry is absolutely critical for the UK’s economic competitiveness, innovation, national infrastructure, and security – but it’s currently suffering from a major and growing skills gap, with more roles being advertised than candidates.

Current projections suggest that the market will be worth £30bn by 2025 – six times larger than it is now – yet tech firms already report struggling to fill roles in the here and now. The problem is only going to get worse, with it currently estimated there will be just 1 qualified woman for every 115 roles by 2025. So, with women making up 50% of the population, it’s clear that we need to engage with this demographic and encourage more women into tech careers – which is no mean feat.

The latest survey of our community showed that 8 in 10 were not encouraged into a career in tech. Failure to engage girls at the education level is a big part of the problem, but it does not mean that they cannot enter the industry later in their working lives with the right support.

The appetite for coding education post-compulsory and voluntary academia is certainly there – especially amongst our non-STEM students, who make up 80% of our community. Our free courses are, on average, 600% oversubscribed, showing that, whilst we are facing a huge digital skills gap, there is great potential to close it if we tap into this enthusiasm.

In fact, 59% of graduates of our CFGDegree, a free 16-week course in either data, software, full-stack or product management that matches candidates with potential job opportunities with sponsoring companies, studied non-STEM subjects at university – including English, History and Education.

And, despite traditional preferences amongst tech employers for STEM students, our latest survey of these graduates revealed that STEM and non-STEM students performed on par throughout the course with 80% of non-STEM candidates achieving a distinction or merit (compared to 81% of STEM students).

It’s clear that to bridge the tech skills gap, the sector needs to look beyond traditional pathways into technical roles – which have previously been dominated by computer science graduates who are also most likely to be men.

The women in our community who career-switched into coding roles in their late 20s and 30s were most likely to have studied humanities subjects like English and History at university, with 1 in 5 having done so – showing that anyone, with the right support and opportunities in place, has the ability to learn to code.

That’s why, this National Coding Week, we’re encouraging women to look into the opportunities learning to code has to offer them – and for businesses to look beyond traditional pathways into the sector. It’s no longer a nice to have – it’s an imperative.

About Code First Girls  

Code First Girls has already helped more than 140,000 women learn to code and by working with companies globally, is boosting employability, diversity and social mobility, and transforming local economies and communities.

About the author, Anna Brailsford

As CEO of Code First Girls, Anna Brailsford is on a mission to eliminate the diversity gap in tech by providing free education and employment to women, globally.

Anna has transformed Code First Girls from a social enterprise to a rapidly accelerating profit-making business, including securing Series A funding from female angel investors and a leading investment firm to accelerate the company’s growth and close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.

Anna has plans to create one million opportunities for women to learn to code and participate in the tech industry in the next five years.

Previously, Anna was the Commercial Director of both and LinkedIn. When LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5 Billion 2015, she became part of the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history and subsequently contributed to the creation of LinkedIn Learning, one of the largest online learning platforms.

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