Only 17% of people in the UK tech sector are female. The challenge of creating better access for women of all ages and backgrounds in tech jobs has resulted in a lack of female tech leaders in the majority of UK businesses. In 2016, KPMG launched a programme to make a positive change in diversifying their workforce. They teamed up with Multiverse to provide exciting development opportunities in data and tech to provide a route to the top for talented women in their organisation.

In 2016, KPMG launched IT's Her Future (IHF) - the programme was created to not only improve the gender balance in their technology departments, but also to improve the gender parity in senior leadership roles. The IHF programme covers every stage of a career journey for women at KPMG, from outreach to job applications, to providing reskilling and upskilling opportunities, to mentoring and coaching the programme’s participants into future leaders.

“Diversity is an untapped superpower which all companies have the potential to unlock” says Anna Somaiya, Founder and leader of IT’s Her Future. “KPMG is committed to life-long learning and it was important to me to ensure that women were given an opportunity to learn new skills”

“It is crucial for us that all female employees are given opportunities to upskill within their own departments or even do a career change within KPMG,” says Liz Jessop, Development Lead at IT’s Her Future and Co-Chair KPMG Work-Ability Network.

KPMG teamed up with Multiverse to equip the internal rising talent on the IT’s Her Future programme with data skills. The cost of the 15-month Data Fellowship programme is fully covered by the Apprenticeship Levy.

“We realised that the Apprenticeship Levy could be used to provide relevant skills and coaching to the outstanding women in our organisation,” shares Liz. “Everyone uses data, but often people don’t even realise just how much they use it every day. So it will be fantastic to see how apprentices on Multiverse's Data Fellowship programme will add value to our clients and their teams. This is a fantastic opportunity!”

Benefits of applied learning and ex-industry coaches

The participants on Multiverse's Data Fellowship programme will not only upskill in data analysis and data science, learn to manipulate data, create predictive models and visualise their findings while acquiring a good knowledge of programming fundamentals. They will also continuously apply their new skills and knowledge to real-life business problems.

“As part of their apprenticeship, learners are required to apply their skills in their own work, creating a portfolio of personal projects that are unique to them and the context of their work and using real data from their company. These projects exemplify the quality of training we offer and add real value to a learner's company even before the apprenticeship is completed,” explains Vasilis Konstantinides, Data Coach at Multiverse.

Like all Multiverse apprentices, IHF participants are benefiting from one-to-one time with ex-industry coaches like Vasilis, who have extensive experience tackling real business challenges and can maximise the impact that apprentices have on their professional development and the entire business.

“As coaches, we guide learners in designing their projects and exploring opportunities for data projects at work,” says Vasilis. “Additionally, learners set out monthly objectives with their coaches that are designed to be tailored and personalised to the learner and transformative for their professional and technical development.”

Data and tech skills that add value to both employees and clients

One of the benefits of Multiverse's Data Fellowship programme is gaining the ability to communicate complex concepts with clients as well as tech teams in a way that works best for both parties. This is what Angie Adams, Manager Advanced Analytics at KPMG and IHF participant, calls the ‘data translator’ capability.

Angie had been with KPMG for five years before joining the Advanced Analytics team. Having a background in project management, she is leading conversations with clients and acting as a point of contact between them and her team. But, when presenting back data or talking about machine learning, Angie realised that she needed a more advanced tech training to add more value to these important conversations:

“I want to be able to talk to our clients about their problems in a clear way, but then to be able to also translate that to my Advanced Analytics team, in their terminology.”

Angie Adams, Manager Advanced Analytics at KPMG, joined the Multiverse Data Fellowship programme to gain a better understanding of data, and be able to 'translate' it to client and tech teams.

With promotion around the corner, Angie worried about how doing an apprenticeship programme would be perceived by her colleagues. Like many people, she thought that this is something that can still be associated with being early in one’s career journey.

But the IHF and the Multiverse teams helped her realise that anyone can benefit from doing an apprenticeship, no matter their age or seniority level. That’s why Angie has recently joined the Multiverse's Data Fellowship programme, proving that misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships are just that.

“It sometimes takes a bit longer for women to consider doing an apprenticeship, so we wanted to create a supportive environment for them,” shares Liz. “We’ve had a lot of support from the Multiverse team guiding us through the process. Multiverse understands really well our vision for the future and why this training matters to us. It’s exciting to see how this programme will change the learning culture at KPMG.”

Apart from gaining skills and knowledge in Data and machine learning, Angie is also excited to join Multiverse's on- and off-line Community of apprentices - something that Liz believes is a significant value-add to KPMG's learning culture:

“With Multiverse, apprentices don’t just go through the course and then carry on with self-learning. Multiverse's Community allows them to attend talks and events, adds a lot of value to their experience and creates a culture of continuous learning. They get a community of peers with a shared common goal. This is an important part of achieving success.”

Addressing misconceptions: “20% off-the-job training doesn’t mean ‘losing’ an employee one day a week!”

There are still some misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships that often influence how open internal stakeholders are to it. Multiverse focuses on educating both prospective applicants and their line manager on what taking part in an apprenticeship programme means.

“Doing an apprenticeship whilst also doing your everyday work is still a very new concept at some workplaces,” says Liz.

"It’s important that managers understand that a 20% off-the-job training that an apprenticeship requires doesn’t mean they will be losing a member of staff one day a week!”

What’s next?

The programme has clearly made a positive impact in closing the gender gap at the tech departments. But the team at IHF doesn’t stop there. Launched in 2016, the IHF programme has already made a positive change in the gender balance at KPMG, getting to a 42% women headcount across tech departments in October 2019. That’s nearly 60% more than the industry average!

“Whilst the gender gap at KPMG is decreasing, we need to also make sure that the number of women from black and disability communities grows,” says Liz. “We want to give them all the tools and motivation they need to get promoted into senior positions at KPMG.”

“We need to inspire boys and girls to get curious about technology. We won’t get gender parity unless we encourage more girls to consider a career in technology. The work we do with CR and schools is vital to ensure we have lasting results, and everyone is given equal opportunities."

Get in touch with our team to talk about apprenticeships.