Hay all, Paul here, writing up my feelings and experiences of speaking at the Bluecoat School Liverpool this week.
To me, nothing is more important that having the opportunity to share, inspire and leas the next generation to believe they can change things, to do better, to take us further and bring new perspective to what we all do.
I spent an evening at Bluecoat School Liverpool doing exactly this; I shared my career journey and how I hopped and stepped through various roles and expanded my skillset and what it meant for me. What choices I made and what I might do differently given the landscape of education today.
Being able to share my journey allowed me to show the variety of opportunities in technology out there at a critical time in these kids lives so they are informed of the type of jobs and careers out there in our field that they can start working towards as they pick their GCSE’s, A levels and University places.
A number of the attendees seemed curious about what roles were out there in the IT & Cyber landscape. a few kids and parents alike were surprised at the choices and variety in roles available; many thinking the only options were to ‘write code’ for known IT companies and were intrigued at the thought of the fact EVERY company nowadays now needs both IT and CyberSecurity skills more and more.
I was very happy with the response and got to speak to around 30+ kids and their parents and answered a number of questions yet there was still a disparity between boys and girls in attendance with only around 3 to 4 girls coming in during the whole evening.
Why is it we still struggle with gender equality in STEM roles? What exposure to Data Science, IT Operations and Cybersecurity do 13 – 17 year olds get really? Only in the last 5 years have schools started teaching basic programming ( whereas I got taught how to make an accountancy program in MS Access and Excel! )
To me, this shows there is still some way to go to start opening up a balance in STEM roles and it’s already something I discuss and push a lot with my 9 year old daughter to pursue her interested in graphic design and art; even when at that young age I’ve experienced her being told her interest in computers and tech is something ‘for boys’.
I don’t have all the answers by any stretch but I know spending one evening at my old secondary school was more than worth my time even if just one of those kids I spoke too take an active interest in what I had to say and its opened their mind to the opportunities ahead of them.
At 13Fields, this is something we are exceptionally passionate about; opening the book to the next generation to enable and inspire an interest in Technology at a younger age by working with schools, open evenings, career days and more in our local areas.
Talking about the problem as if it is a technology problem seems to be quite commonplace but there is a simple way we can address this; get online, checkout the local junior and secondary schools in the area and email or call them. Offer your time to come in and talk to a mixture of age groups on technology, your career, offer to run an IT lesson on something as simple as setting up a Raspberry Pi, whatever your skillset there is something you can share to inspire and spark that curiosity for more.
It would be great to see more of this shared and publicised in an open and accessible way. I was asked by a few of the parents where they could take their kids to gain more insight and if there are any groups in the area aimed at the 13 – 17 age range; there is clearly an opportunity to create a program, potentially in partnership with your Scouts, Brownies, AirCadets, etc groups to start reaching a wider audience sooner. If you know of any groups and communities across the UK where Children can go to learn more about STEM skills and be exposed to these fields please share with us via LinkedIn or Twitter.
It ‘Fields Good‘ to give back and something we are passionate about