In an effort to increase diversity and inclusion in tech roles, the British government has created a new £1 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund to help people from underrepresented backgrounds access training to gain the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy.
The fund is open for bids from local authorities of up to £500,000 of funding for training programs designed for those seeking digital roles such as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketers.
Additionally, the government has created a new £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund to help disabled and older people acquire digital skills including the basics of using apps to communicate with friends and family and using search engines.
“It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology,” said Margot James, Minister for Digital. “If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”
Only 1-2 percent of technical roles in the UK are filled by black people, according to The Telegraph.
“We also need to recognize that old-fashioned biases are still built into too many organizations and jobs,” said Sarah Kaiser, diversity and inclusion head at Fujitsu. “It is only by engaging a diverse array of people in tech that we can hope to protect the future competitiveness of the UK economy.”
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows that 43 percent of high-level STEM jobs go unfilled due to lack of workers with the technical skills.
“As the rate of technological change and innovation continues, ‘tech’ is becoming increasingly integrated within every sector and industry,” said Christine Gaskell, Digital Skills Partnership board member.
“We share the aspiration to ensure that more people have the skills and creativity that will enable them to contribute to, and benefit from, new economic opportunities and deliver more inclusive growth,” she added.