UK Government digital skills fund pledges £1m to get under-represented groups into tech
It’s no secret that the technology industry has a diversity problem – it’s estimated that only 19% of the workforce are female, and various diversity reports from large companies, such as Google’s latest, show that employees and bosses are predominantly white. Despite the efforts of groups such as Girls Who Code and Diversity in Tech, the global technology industry still has staggeringly low numbers of certain groups.
In an effort to boost diversity in this industry, The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has pledged £1 million as part of the Digital Skills Innovation Fund. Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities can apply for grants to assist people in acquiring digital jobs – be that programming, analysing data or developing software.
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The funding is available to initiatives that aid people from various groups, including ethnic minorities, women, or those living in lower socioeconomic areas. These groups are traditionally underrepresented in terms of employment and qualification for the technology industry. The fund joins several smaller pre-existing initiatives, including the Tech Talent Charter, an industry collective through which companies pledge their commitment to diversity.
The Digital Skills Innovation Fund is significantly larger than other similar funds – the Tech Talent Charter only received £170,000 – which shows the Government’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in technology.
The Digital Skills Innovation Fund is being launched alongside the Digital Inclusion Fund, with £400,000 worth of support offered to initiatives and projects that aid the elderly and disabled in accessing the internet.
Data suggests 20% of disabled adults have never used the internet, and over half of all adults that have never used the internet are aged 75 and over. This is despite various important tasks being digitised, including booking GP appointments and ordering food shopping. The Digital Inclusion Fund is aimed at providing people with basic internet skills, teaching them how to communicate with friends and family and efficiently using search engines.