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Future of digital is diversity

KICK-START A REVOLUTION: BAME people are under-represented in the UK technology sector

A £40M national Institute of Coding is aiming to train more people from black and minority ethnic communities and other groups to help fill the UK’s digital skills shortage.

The Institute, which will receive £20m funding from the government and £20m from universities and industry will bring together a consortium of more than 60 universities, national and international companies both large and small, industry groups and professional bodies.

Demand for coding and computer science specialists continues to increase.
According to recent figures more than 500,000 people will be needed to fill vacancies in highly skilled digital roles by 2022.

However this is three times the number of Computer Sciences graduates in the last 10 years in the UK.

There is also concern that people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds women and people returning to work are particularly underrepresented.

Speaking about the launch of the Institute, Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.”

He added: “The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”

The institute will focus on five core themes:

* University learners – boosting graduate employability through a new industry standard targeted at degree level qualifications.

* The digital workforce – developing specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance.

* Digitalising the professions –helping employees retrain via new digital training programmes provided through online and face-to-face learning

* Widening participation – to boost equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers through tailored workshops and other outreach activities

* Knowledge sharing and sustainability – through sharing outcomes and good practice

Dr Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding and a member of the Department of Computer Science who works on human-computer interaction said: “The strength of the Institute of Coding lies in the fact that it brings together educators, employers and outreach groups to co-develop digital skills education at undergraduate and masters level for learners in universities, at work and in previously under-supported groups across the country.

“Courses will be made available at undergraduate and masters levels, alongside short courses in areas of strategic importance including data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security.”

He continued: “In addition, we’ll work with our partners to implement a Widening Participation programme to target under-represented talent through outreach activities, tailored and inclusive curricula, flexible delivery and removal of barriers to working in the industry.”

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