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</The Institute of Coding launches ‘CTRL Your Future’ campaign on Ada Lovelace Day at techUK’s Creating Digital Futures Conference>

Published on 8 October 2019 by web editor

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October 2019: What young people think happens behind the scenes of the UK’s digital sector has been revealed. In a nationwide poll of 1,000 16 – 18 year olds, more than half of respondents (56%) said the industry needs to be more diverse and inclusive.

Revealing their perception that the digital workforce lacks diversity, 71% of youth surveyed think the industry is made up of people solely identifying as heterosexual, 83% believe it’s led by men, and 85% believe the majority of people working in the sector are not disabled. Further, more than two thirds (70%) believe it’s run entirely by those that are of white, British ethnicity, and over a third (34%) think there are unequal opportunities for women. One in ten admit they are actively discouraged from pursuing digital education and jobs due to the lack of people that represent them.

Demonstrating the need for more diverse role models in tech, 41% said there’s a lack of female role models in the industry. Mark Zuckerberg was revealed as young people’s top tech icon (21%), followed by Jeff Bezos (10%).

The IoC has also undertaken research with Deloitte, one of the members of its large consortium. This research surveyed more than 500 people who are currently employed in a variety of different fields about their feelings toward the digital sector. In this survey, more than 90% of respondents agreed that increasing the diversity of the digital workforce is beneficial for creativity and productivity.

The IoC results suggest that the next generation of talent is being put off digital education and careers before they even start. We know that a diverse workforce is essential for the future success of the digital industry, so the IoC is responding to these findings by announcing a new campaign called CTRL Your Future, aiming to shift the dial on diversity and inclusion in digital across the UK.

Launching on Ada Lovelace Day, the IoC’s campaign will champion a cross-section of diverse people making waves in digital and rebooting the face of the industry along the way. This is a key theme of techUK’s Creating Digital Futures conference that looks to highlight that opportunities in tech are open to all.

Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding says: “The Institute of Coding is focused on providing a fresh and disruptive approach to digital learning that focuses on diversity and inclusion. We are thrilled to be working with some fantastic industry partners across the digital sector for the CTRL Your Future campaign and eager to address the barriers that discourage young people from pursuing digital education and careers.”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of techUK and Co-Chair of the IoC, says: “While some of these opinions echo what many people in the industry may already feel, what’s shocking is that these are the perceptions of young people who’ve yet to set foot in the industry. Today’s techUK’s Creating Digital Futures conference explores how we can not only better tell the industry’s story but also how we create and showcase exciting pathways into tech that are open to all.

“A reboot of the digital sector starts with welcoming a fresh, more diverse cross-section of talent through the doors, and CTRL Your Future will highlight some of the people across gaming, fashion and design who are already helping to reshape industry – calling on the next generation to get involved.”

Nicola Turner MBE, Head of Access and Participation, Sector Practice at the Office for Students says: “Not only are artificial intelligence and data specialists in short supply, but the current workforce is not representative of the wider population, and this lack of diversity risks undermining the UK sector’s capability and credibility. The IoC’s new campaign is an important effort to address this challenge by using a diverse group of inspirational people working in tech to reach new audiences and highlight the range of choices available to those considering digital careers.”

Shilpa Shah, Consulting Director and leader of Deloitte’s women in technology network, says: “Improving diversity within the industry is one of the key ways we can ensure that technology evolves in a way which will benefit every section of society, as experts from different backgrounds bring their own experiences, knowledge and opinions to a project. It’s reassuring that the vast majority of people are aware of the benefits diversity can bring to productivity and creativity, and we must continue to echo the importance of diversity to inspire change across the industry.”

CTRL Your Future will first partner with DIGI-GXL. Led by Cat Taylor, DIGI-GXL is an inclusive community supporting women, trans and non-binary people looking to reshape the world of 3D design and animation – seen through recent collaborations with Selfridges and Nike x Trippin.

Other partners will include London Gaymers, the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ gamer community providing a safe and inclusive space for gamers and the STEMettes, the social enterprise inspiring young women to pursue a career in STEM, founded by Anne-Marie Imafidon.

Events, inspiring panel workshops and short films will be rolled out over the next several months, promoting the diverse face of the industry, showing the creative opportunities that exist through emerging tech and calling for more young people to get involved. With university courses now open for applications, please visit www.instituteofcoding.org for more information about CTRL Your Future and the IoC.

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