NATIONAL initiative InnovateHer is pledging its commitment to assisting more than 55 schools and reaching over 1,000 girls by 2020, to help improve equality in tech and address the digital skills gap, with the help of new partners.
The social enterprise, which has launched in 26 schools across the North West in 2018, will work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to deliver an eight-week after-school programme in the region.
The programme is designed to encourage greater equality and diversity in technical roles by giving girls aged 12-16 access to the skills, self-belief and confidence to pursue a career in technology.
InnovateHer has worked with over 240 girls in 12 schools to date, enabling them to interact with leading employers and industry role models, alongside providing careers coaching. Specialising in technical education for girls, the company is on a mission to make a significant impact on gender inequality in tech globally.
Other private sector partners such as Co-op Digital and Code ComputerLove, will assist the InnovateHer team in delivering the programme in a wide range of schools across the North West. The InnovateHer team are simultaneously working with digital and tech companies through a membership and consultancy offer, to create more inclusive workplaces for the next generation to work within.
Jo Morfee, co-founder of InnovateHer, said: “It’s critical that young people are given the opportunity to learn key digital skills from an early age, as the majority of roles now require digital skills. We also have a gender gap in the industry – just 20% of tech roles in the North West are taken by women.
“That’s why we’re on a mission to change the narrative, because we believe that everyone, regardless of background or identity, should be given the opportunity to follow the path that they choose. It’s great that the Combined Authorities in both Liverpool and Manchester are supporting this ambition as it enables us to reach over 50 schools and hundreds of girls across the North West region.”
The Greater Manchester programme will be delivered as part of a strategic programme backed by the Mayor Andy Burnham. InnovateHer has joined a partnership consortium under the name of GoDigital, which aims to reach up to 50 schools in the area by 2020, to deliver a package of digital skills training and careers coaching to year eight pupils.
Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA lead for education and skills said: “To be able to dedicate specific funding to developing the digital skills of your young people is a significant step-change in preparing them for the world of work and making them aware of the opportunities in this rapidly growing sector.
This is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Greater Manchester and the programme will reach over 10,000 pupils in 200 schools. This in turn benefits all of us in the city-region and can contribute to us having a thriving economy with the right skills for jobs in the digital sector and opportunities for everyone.”
In the Liverpool City Region, the programme has been backed by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and will reach six schools by 2020, working with one school in each borough. The schools will have a choice of themes to pick from; Web Development, Tech for Good and Gaming, and students will have the opportunity to showcase their work at The Big Bang festival in July.
Councillor Ian Maher, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority portfolio holder for education, employment, skills and apprenticeships, said: “Ensuring that everyone in our city region has the opportunity to fulfil their potential is a vital part of the Combined Authority’s work, which is why we are working to tackle harmful gender stereotyping that effectively shuts off whole sectors to our young people.
“Programmes like InnovateHer are so important because they challenge stereotypes and raise aspirations, which will help ensure that girls in our city region feel able to consider a rewarding career in the tech sector.”
All of the girls that have been through the InnovateHer programme have said they felt more confident about having careers in tech after completing the course. Girls have secured work experience placements at companies such as SONY, and entered national hackathons and competitions. The InnovateHer online community is thriving, with peer-to-peer mentoring amoungst alumni being actively encouraged through their ambassador scheme.
InnovateHer is currently seeking industry mentors to help lead the programme, and business partners to help with delivery. Get in touch with the team if you’d like to get involved: www.InnovateHer.co.uk.