Last week in Manchester saw the annual Digital Skills Festival hosted by independent body Manchester Digital and the reveal of the findings of it’s Skills Audit of over 100 digital and tech businesses across the North West, and it came as no surprise to us at least that there was a significant gender gap highlighted.
According to the audit almost a third of digital businesses had to turn work away over the past year as a result of not being able to find the right talent meanwhile just one in five technical roles were filled by women and whilst there are almost certainly questions to be asked about routes into tech through education and whether the talent of tomorrow are adequately advised about technology careers, we'd also suggest that there's an issue surrounding businesses and their lack of creative thinking around filling tech roles.
The returner market is an untapped pipeline of tech talent and it's one which is being missed by many businesses, research and our own experiences both as individuals and as a business tell us that returning to work is a challenge and one which largely affects women, often forced to return to lower skilled or lower paid jobs because of a lack of flexibility around family or caring commitments, in short they're paying a penalty for taking a career break - meanwhile let's remember a third of businesses are struggling to find talent, and why? Because they're not thinking creatively about where they can find talent and about what that solution looks like, they're not considering offering part time hours, job shares or other options which increase their available talent pool.
So the answer seems simple connect the two! and that's what we're striving to do at Tech Returners, since 2017 we've enabled twenty individuals, 19 of them women into technology careers with businesses including AO.com, Autotrader and the BBC and this number is only set to grow with the introduction of new initiatives and partners , but this isn't us showing off or patting ourselves on the back but it's a demonstration of how the simple connection of the needs of the workforce and the talent needs of businesses can marry together in a way that if embraced by more could truly change the future of the technology industry and work towards closing that gap for good.