School of Code Bootcamp

Applications are now open for the School of Code’s FREE Skills Bootcamp in Software Development!

School of Code Bootcamp

The School of Code are giving people interested in learning full-stack web development the opportunity to apply for a FREE intensive online coding course.

The School of Code Bootcamp is a free, 16 week, online intensive web development course open to applicants of all backgrounds. The School of Code is on a mission to help give everyone a route into technology, and teach them the skills they need to leap into the industry.

Who can apply?

Anyone over 19 years old, living in England can apply. No qualifications or previous experience required. You don’t even need to have seen a line of code before! All you need is the desire to learn and a love of problem solving.

What will I learn?

By the end of the course, you will be specialised in full-stack JavaScript development. You will be fully trained in the industry best practices and standards and have learned the fundamentals of programming and how to work in a high performance tech team.

Will they help me get a job?

The School of Code will help you to get a foothold in the tech industry as not only is the course free, but they are also committed to helping place you into jobs – they bring the companies to you!

On top of creating software to solve real-world problems, you’ll receive training to be confident and job-ready.

Apply now!

The course is full-time, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, for 16 weeks.

APPLY HERE

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Act to Code Change: How coding can help remove barriers for 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

Article by Mary Connaughton, Code Institute

A little less conversation a little more action is clearly needed when it comes to women in tech. For the past decade we’ve had more platitudes than progress – 11% of UK software developers are female – zero change.

Long-term, the economic and professional impact of this on women’s livelihoods will be disproportionately negative given the acceleration in digitisation and the hardening link between marketable tech skills, earning potential and job security.

When leaders talk about gender balance in tech, they often speak about it in a very broad sense, early intervention at primary and secondary school,  mentorships and resource groups at an industry level. Too often the focus is simply on discussing the benefits of having more women in the tech space rather than considering why this aspiration is not being realised.

Currently, 9% ( 3 million people) of the UK workforce are employed in the tech sector,  yet only 26% of these are women and  at 11% the percentage in coding or developer roles is less than half that. As the sector rapidly expands,  the gender gap is widening as fewer female graduates emerge and those that do continue to leave the sector in greater numbers. There are long standing, fundamental  barriers that need to be addressed if anything is to chage.

A practical, hands-on approach

A cohesive approach involving education, industry and learners themselves is needed, particularly to inform policy and to  create more opportunities for women who are already in the workforce or returning to the workforce.  It’s not realistic to go back to college for three or four years to get these skills – the barriers remain the same.

To that end, Code Institute hopes its Coding Careers for Women initiative provides a faster,  more practical solution. The first cohort was run 2021/22 as  a joint initiative between Code Institute, Limerick and Clare Education Board, the Mid-West Regional Skills Forum and Limerick For IT representing local industry.

Twenty women who were unemployed or out of the workplace from the Limerick and Clare region participated in the initiative that included a nine-month diploma in software development and a three-month work placement. The online, flexible delivery of the  programme bypasses many of the barriers women can face particularly the ability to travel and attend classroom based training around other commitments; the all-female cohort is less intimidating for participants; while the opportunity to use skills in a workplace setting while being mentored is a game changer for those changing careers into the tech sector.

The tech companies who backed the initiative committed to providing worplacements, many of which led to full-time jobs. A progressive alternative to traditional graduate recruitment and one which these companies see real value in according to John Cormican, General Manager, Vehicle Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, Shannon, “This is a fantastic way to give back and, personally, learn different aspects of mentoring. The project is a huge learning curve for the mentees and really helps build their confidence after such a lengthy career break – as it can sometimes be quite challenging to go back into the workplace.”

Why an all-women cohort matters

The course is made up of an all-women cohort, which facilitator Kasia Bogucka said is important for creating a safe, supportive environment.

“Women often feel intimidated by the competitiveness, sometimes aggressive approach of some males in this industry, hence they may feel inadequate,” she said.

“This feeling is not aligned with these women’s abilities. My first female cohort I worked with was a group of women who immediately came together and created a safe learning environment. One without arrogance and so-called chest-thumping, which often may be observed in male groups.”

Bogucka added that members of the group bonded as teammates. “Students became colleagues and almost friends as they were all working as a whole team – a team of women in coding.”

Siobhan Gorman is a graduate of the Coding Careers For Women initiative, having joined after she had taken a career break to raise her family.

“If the course hadn’t mentioned targeting women I would not have considered it – I liked the idea that the course would address the particular constraints facing women who want a career in tech,” she said.

“With an all-female cohort, we understood where we were all coming from with respect to the particular demands and constraints on women, especially after taking a career break or juggling looking after children and working. Women are very supportive and we formed a tight-knit team who shared problems and found solutions together.”

Gorman’s placement is  with Jaguar Land Rover, R&D Software Engineering Centre in Shannon, Co Clare, which is helping build her skills every day and where she is mentored.

“My ambition is to work in a company like Jaguar Land Rover in a team as a junior developer with a view to becoming a scrum master possibly after some more experience in an agile team.”

We know what the barriers to women in tech are, we’ve talked about them long enough. Actual change requires actual action by a network of allies with the will and determination to create the opportunities for women to succeed. As Coding Careers for Women shows, it can be done.

About the author

Mary Connaughton works with Code Insitute on tech sector education initiatives with strong employment outcomes. These include initiatives to tackle gender imbalance in the tech sector and tech skills programmes for unemployed people and those whose jobs are at risk. These involve bringing together stakeholders from government bodies, digital skills partnerships and employers to identify the skills needs of a region and deliver a response that meets those needs in an accelerated timeframe.

If you’re interested in moving the dial on women in tech and would like to discuss partnering on a Coding Careers for Women cohort please contact [email protected]


Women working with computer for design and coding program

Why we need to encourage more girls into coding and STEM

Women working with computer for design and coding program

Article by Elizabeth Tweedale, CEO and Founder, Cypher

Think Different. A great Apple ad campaign from 1997. The fact that we all think differently is at the very root of why girls – and everyone for that matter – should be encouraged to get into coding.

The reason we should encourage girls into coding is not just about feminism or equality, it’s not just about fairness or a ‘level playing field’, it’s not just about opening up glass ceilings and filling quotas. It’s far more important than that. It’s about solving problems for the future of our world.

Talking about the ‘female’ mind or ‘male’ mind is fraught with difficulty – so I’m not suggesting these are two different opposing gender-based options, but broadly painting a picture of a rich spectrum of the diversity of thought amongst individuals. A bit like we use ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ ways of thinking. It’s the combination of this diversity, facilitated through inclusivity, that leads to the ability to solve problems in new and unpredictable ways.

As a teacher I have observed children approaching tasks in different ways which reveal different mindsets. Early on in my experience of teaching children to learn to code, I taught a class of boys a lesson about making a space invaders game. The lesson taught concepts about coding and computational thinking. The boys picked up the concepts fast, were highly competitive, designed efficient invader killing programs and were totally goal orientated. Soon after I had the opportunity to teach the same lesson to a group of girls. I was fascinated by the alternative way of working that they displayed. This group took twice as long to complete the task. However, they were collaborative, discussed different options, considered the design and colour scheme of the game and even considered the wellbeing of the aliens – providing ways for them to get food. They completed the task differently.

This got me thinking about the value of different approaches to problem solving. And also the very evident fact that there are less women working in technology than men. Women make up just 17%  of IT specialists in the UK. While the concept of computer science was invented by a woman, once it was turned into an academic subject to fit into an educational system designed largely around how boys learn, it lost it’s connection with the ‘poetic science’ displayed by Ada Lovelace’s mind. Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician working with Charles Babbage in around 1843, first developed the idea that computers had the capability to go beyond mere number-crunching.

The benefit of learning computational thinking, the core concepts behind developing code and algorithms, is that it gives students the tools to both think around problems and promotes the idea that there are many ways to solve a problem. Thinking computationally isn’t just about the questions you answer, but about the questions you ask. What I might call a male approach might be to set the question ‘What is 2×2?’ We can all do that – 4. But what if we ask the question, ‘How do you make 4?’ Immediately the mind expands and starts thinking of different angles. How about  8÷2, 1+1+1+1, 22, 60÷15, √16……there are so many ways. With different people working together – different genders, different heritages, different social backgrounds – the approaches are instantly diversified. And women tend to bring together a range of approaches rather than stick to a straightforward path.

In my own career I have an example where my approach, bringing together two different principles, led to a new and exciting solution. With my background in both computer science and architecture, I have developed the code to create a space planning app to improve office space usage. It was also the result of a great partnership with my husband, Bruce. By putting together two types of algorithms, a particle based system and a graphical based system, I was able to create algorithms to solve the space problems faster. Bruce, interestingly, says that’s something he would never have done and credits my ‘female mind’ as being able to think in a more lateral, pick’n’mix way. When it came to getting the algorithms patented however, he was the one to drive that process through and get it registered. Teamwork.

So how have we managed to put off so many girls going into computer science? Just 9% of female graduates in 2018 studied a core Stem subject – science, technology, engineering and maths. Some girls are keen on computing and I’m the last one to stereotype anyone into a particular role. I was both the president of the Computer Science club at high school – and the Cheerleaders. I love gaming. But I love other things too. I’m a Mom, and I like being in charge of how my home is, what the kids do and getting to know their teachers and the other school Moms. It’s my choice to take on that role in our marriage (as well as being CTO of our company). We just don’t make computer science sound that attractive to most girls. What’s the point? How does it relate to me? I read an Instagram post only yesterday from a woman who’d just got a house to herself after being brought up with three brothers – doesn’t this just paint a picture of what life can be like for some girls?

“There has always been noise, there has always been things everywhere that were the possessions of others, that weren’t for me, and I wasn’t to touch…amps, wires, guitars, drum kits, video games and televisions that I was never interested in but wasn’t ever allowed to use anyway – the year PlayStation came out was really shit, just saying.”

It’s not encouraging!

Things have to change. Everyone needs to get to understand technology better. The 98% of people who don’t want to be computer programmers have to have an elevated level of understanding of technology to be able to function in today’s and especially tomorrow’s world. An understanding of how computing works, what computational thinking is, how algorithms work – takes away the fear of technology. Technophobia is only overcome when you have a go, you discover it’s not so clever, it’s just about giving a machine a few instructions. And wow, those instructions can make a real difference.

By broadening the understanding of technology we can also help increase the numbers of women working in and understanding technology. When I spoke at a conference for International Women’s Day last year I was impressed by the recognition of the breadth of what ‘women in tech’ means. The marketing team was proud to stand up and say, “We are women in tech’. No, they aren’t labelled CTO but they do run the Facebook campaigns and understand the algorithms, they do run the website, they do analyse the data from all the technological interactions with customers.

How do we encourage girls into coding and STEM? By creating environments that welcome women. By appreciating that not everyone thinks the same and that there are many ways to peel an orange. By showing that they can tap into their creativity when learning computational thinking. That it can help their creativity. I set up my company, Cypher, to inspire children to learn the language of the future – code. From the outset, I wanted to make it as girl friendly as possible. The whole premise of Cypher is that we teach through creative themes – we want to catch a kid’s imagination and curiosity with subjects that mean something to them – whatever their gender. Our themes range from exploring marine ecology and conservation, to a virtual world tour meeting robots and building pyramids, to making magic, to fashion shows and composing music. And whatever the theme, we connect it to technology, learning to code and developing computational thinking. STEM by stealth if you like. The greater the range of children we can excite about coding now, the greater the diversity of thinking and problem solving that will be in the next generation of leaders, designers, thinkers – bringing new and surprising solutions to the problems we face in the future. As we say at Cypher, getting the next generation future ready.

Elizabeth Tweedale, CEO CypherAbout the author

Elizabeth Tweedale is a computer scientist, has a master’s degree in architecture, has written six books for children explaining different coding languages and is the Founder and CEO of Cypher – an edtech startup inspiring children aged 5 to 12+ to learn and apply the language of coding through creative and interactive camps and clubs. She’s also a mother of three young digital natives.

While working for Foster & Partners’ Specialist Modelling Group in 2013, she spotted the educational potential of coding. She explains: “My team used computer coding to design buildings, including the Apple Campus and the Gherkin. I saw many colleagues teaching themselves how to code and hitting stumbling blocks because they didn’t have a basic understanding of computational thinking and had never learned how easily code fits together.”

Her experience sparked a question. Shouldn’t we be teaching our young children how to code? And so she set up a company to do just that.


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.


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.


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

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

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.”


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.”  


coding

Why now is the perfect time to learn to code…

codingThe COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on businesses and people across the globe. People are working from home, have been furloughed or have lost their jobs, which, for some, has led to more free time than ever before.

Although this is an incredibly challenging time, it provides the opportunity to learn new skills, which can help provide a sense of empowerment, build confidence, and can set you up for future success.

Coding is an especially great skill to work on at home – whether you are starting from scratch or want to advance in your current role.  Coding is the way in which you give instructions to a computer to get it to perform one or more tasks. Just in the same way that you can use French or Spanish to communicate directions to people from either country, there are different coding languages suited to different applications, such as JavaScript (website generation), C# (computer games development) and Python (data mining/machine learning).

My career in coding

I first got into coding in my early 20’s, as a master’s student in Bioinformatics. During those times, it was a rarity to see women in coding, the overwhelming majority of people on my course were men. Although there are more female coders today than twenty years ago, the field of coding desperately needs more girls and women – they are half of all tech users and make 85 per cent of shopping decisions.

Throughout my career, I have used coding to solve problems that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without it. In the biomedical sector, I have used it to predict which molecules would make the best candidates for a drug development program, to automatically identify and characterise tumours from nuclear medicine imaging. I get a real buzz from translating my ideas into code which helps solve a real-world problem.

Being a female coder

As a woman in working in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing (STEM) for over 20 years, I have rarely experienced negative attitudes towards female coders. From my perspective, it has become an inclusive industry that understands the need for a diverse range of people to help prevent issues like implicit bias in coding and foster innovation and empathy in artificial intelligence and machine-learning. Although I do remember one person telling me at a business conference that he “didn’t know that blonde girls could code.” But times are changing…

I joined leading med-tech company, Perspectum, in 2014, to help develop a prototype for a new liver imaging technology. Women make up 56 per cent of the workforce at Perspectum which, for a med-tech firm, is ahead of the curve. However, that percentage drops within the software engineering team to 24 per cent which, despite being in line with the number of applicants who come to interview, highlights that there’s still a lot to be done to encourage women into the field.

Speaking to my coding friends in other sectors, I have heard of women feeling side-lined in software teams comprised predominantly of testosterone-fuelled ‘brogrammers,’ but I think that attitudes are changing for the better, and more and more women are pursuing careers in coding.

There is no time like the present

I would advise women who are deciding whether or not to start a career in coding to just do it – don’t wait, start today even! The good news is that there are plenty of varied – and even free – options for learning the basics online, using sites such as Code Academy or Treehouse. There are also many friendly forums (some women-only) where you can share ideas and ask for help from the coding community. If you have been thinking about taking the plunge, take advantage of the free time you may have at the moment as a result of the pandemic, and start developing the foundational coding skills you need to build websites, programmes, or even medical diagnostic devices like me!

About the author

Dr Cat Kelly is the Director of Clinical Informatics and Services, and co-leads Perspectum’s Clinical Services Business Unit.

Cat has 20 years of industrial and academic experience in the biomedical space. Joining Perspectum in 2014, Cat developed Perspectum’s flagship product LiverMultiScan, before founding the Quantitative Analysis Service. Prior to Perspectum, she developed imaging methods to quantify drug-induced changes in tumours at the University of Oxford and served as Associate Director of the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre. Cat holds degrees in Biology and Bioinformatics from the University of York and obtained her DPhil in Medical Imaging from the Department of Engineering at the University of Oxford.


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School of Code

School of Code is expanding it’s free Skills Bootcamp to people across England

School of Code

The School of Code is taking its ground-breaking, free coding bootcamps across the country.

Starting on 15th November 2021, the Skills Bootcamp in software development will be full-time, intensive, and 100 per cent FREE to residents in five English regions – the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, London and the South East.

This expansion is in partnership with the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Plan for Jobs.

School of Code - Cohort 2

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.

The course prides itself on being open to anyone, with diversity in each cohort, a 50:50 gender split and an age-range of 18-60. The School of Code has helped former teachers, return to work parents, school leavers, refugees, bakers, unemployed people, barbers, retail assistants, musicians, artists, air hostesses, beauticians, personal trainers, PhDs, probation officers, health and hospitality workers all learn how to code and change their career paths. Previous graduates have successfully secured roles at employer partners including The Economist, Bravissimo, Santander, Gymshark, Wise, and many more.

They are looking to help 192 people across the country start new careers by April 2022.

School of Code - Karenjeet Chahal

Speaking about the announcement, Dr Chris Meah, Founder of the School of Code said, “Technology will be the engine of recovery for the country, but we need to make sure everyone is on board to benefit.”

“At the School of Code we are free and open to everyone to remove barriers for people.”

“Our mission is to help more and different types of people take advantage of the opportunities technology gives, and to future proof their skills and career.”

“We believe talent can come from anywhere. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing life-changing educational opportunities.”

“That’s why we provide a free route taking people from knowing nothing about technology to becoming world-class tech talent, and partner with employers to help land people into jobs and make our new model of education sustainable.”

“Skills Bootcamps offer a short, intensive, immersive and transformational learning sprint to a new career.”

“The experience helps to change lives and power growth by giving participants the right skills to be immediately useful to employers on day one.”

“But crucially our bootcampers also learn how to learn.”

APPLY HERE
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