BT, Code First Girls partner to close UK gender skills gap in tech

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BT has announced a new strategic partnership with Code First Girls, a UK social enterprise focused on delivering technology training for women, to work to close the gender skills gap in the UK technology sector.

The partnership, which includes funding from BT, helps enable Code First Girls to provide £10,000 worth of free education to every woman undertaking a course with them and to upskill upwards of 900 women.

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Participating women will also benefit from the expertise of BT’s world class technologists who have helped to shape the Code First Girls courses, ensuring the next generation of women in technology are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic risks having regressive consequences on gender equality due to the economic impact on employment and retention. To tackle this, and to boost the representation of women in technology roles, BT is committing to provide the tools, support and skills women need to excel in the fields of technology and IT.

Within BT, TechWomen, an award-winning 12-month development programme, encourages and equips more women to move into senior technology jobs across the business. Meanwhile, BT’s new strategic partnership with Code First Girls will address the need for an increased pipeline of female talent with the technical skills required for tech-focused roles.

BT’s new strategic partnership includes financial support for Code First Girls to provide their services for free, along with offering support for the design and delivery of Code First Girls courses, which are available free to women in full-time education and recent graduates. These courses include nanodegrees, classes and open online courses in a range of skills from Python and SQL coding to website development.

Code First Girls’ nanodegree offering was influenced by their furtHER programme, a 4-month intensive full-time coding course for women, designed and delivered with the help of BT technologists. The aim of these courses is to boost recruitment of women from non-STEM backgrounds into technology jobs and to equip participants with the technical skills they need to begin an entry-level or graduate technology role.

Cathryn Ross, Group Regulatory Affairs Director at BT Group, and sponsor of BT’s TechWomen programme, said: “It is critically important that our tech sector reflects the diversity of the society it serves. At BT, as a leading UK technology company, we are playing our part to help close the gender skills gap in tech. Our TechWomen programme helps pave the way for women in technology to progress into senior roles at BT, but our work can’t stop there; we must support the next generation of women outside our organisation and before they enter the workforce too. We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Code First Girls and our new partnership signifies an important milestone in our shared ambition to support and encourage women into technology roles.”

Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls, said: “At a time when women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, our priority is to help women achieve fair employment in the tech industry. We have seen a vast increase in interest for our courses, since the first lockdown, with over 800 percent growth in registrations for classes. Through our new partnership with BT and expanded corporate partnerships, we’re able to provide more women than ever with the opportunities to learn coding, build confidence through mentorship and gain access to a wide range of careers in technology.”


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