In 2019, 13% of Computing A-Level entrants were women, similarly the percentage of Engineering & Manufacturing Technologies apprenticeships completed by women has remained steady at 7% for every year from 2014/15 to 2017/18. This isn’t surprising when research by PWC found that 16% of females have had technology suggested to them as a career compared to 33% of males and only 3% of females say a career in tech is their first choice.

This is a major problem for the tech sector, in terms of the cost to the economy of the digital skills gap, the cost of unfilled tech vacancies and the cost to creativity where tech teams lack a diversity of thought. However, it is something targeted outreach programmes can tackle and at WhiteHat, alongside our partner schools, colleges, charities and employers, we’re doing just that!  

This February half-term 14 young women from sixth forms and colleges across Greater London and Surrey completed a two-day immersive programme exploring the FinTech industry, designed and delivered by WhiteHat’s Educational Outreach Team in partnership with Tandem Bank and Curve. Day 1 saw participants receive an introduction to FinTech and the culture at Tandem Bank delivered by Tandem volunteers. This was followed by an innovative practical introduction to JavaScript created and delivered by WhiteHat’s expert Software Engineering Coach, Richard.. This workshop gave the participants an opportunity to code their very own chatbot, a crucial tool for FinTech banks to provide customer service. Finally, participants completed a Problem Solving and Agile Working Methodology Workshop developed especially by WhiteHat’s Youth Tech Talent Specialists, Roury & Bea, to demonstrate the soft skills and ways of working needed to be a successful member of a tech team.

Day 2 was equally exciting, this time at Curve. The day began again with an introduction to the company and was followed by a product challenge delivered by volunteers from Curve’s product team. Participants were tasked with creating the wireframe for a webpage that would help customers achieve their financial goals, following the same processes Curve follow when designing their own new products or features. Participants then had the opportunity to code the webpage as part of a practical HTML and CSS workshop led by Curve’s Front End Software Engineers. The day culminated in a Career Mentoring session exploring the lesser-known roles in fintech including IOS developer, Site Reliability Engineer and Scrum Master, finishing off with a prize-giving ceremony led by Curve’s Head of People, Kate.

The programme was a huge success, reflecting on the event, the participants said:

“I didn’t expect to learn all the things that I learnt. It persuaded me to get into FinTech as I didn’t know what it was. I also think I will apply for an apprenticeship in FinTech. It was great and very informative, thank you for the opportunity.”
“This programme was very interactive and I learnt new skills. I feel more confident pursuing a career in coding."
“This programme provided me with a window into an industry that I did not initially consider. Keep reaching out to young people because many are clueless of what this industry consists of.”
“I had a fun time networking, meeting professionals and learning how to code. I am aware of the different avenues into tech and feel confident in my knowledge of the tech industry.”

Whichever route these young women take, whether it’s as a WhiteHat Apprentice or pursuing academia, they are ambitious, talented and will be an incredible asset to any tech company or team. Targeted outreach programmes like this give young women an inclusive space to explore their options and the practical skills and advice to make it happen.

WhiteHat is committed to creating an outstanding alternative to university and developing diverse future leaders. Future programmes include the Tech Talent Accelerator, a 6-week software engineering programme for 18-24-year old, non-graduates, who are not in employment, education or training. This will be running in March and July. In addition, in partnership with Livity, WhiteHat will be hosting our second Tech Apprenticeships Expo, this time with a dual focus on the creative industries, for 17-24 year old, non-graduates. Interested young people can sign up here.

Any enquiries please email .