The UK government has allocated new funds to boost the diversity of people working in the tech industry. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announced the investment in a press release this week.
The Digital Skills Innovation Fund is a £1 million investment in diversity. According to the press release, it will “help people from underrepresented backgrounds gain the skills they need to work in digital roles.”
In addition, the government has announced a further £400,000 to help older and disabled people gain “life-changing” digital skills. The fund is open to bids from Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities.
The investment will help “women, disabled people, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas.” It will open up opportunities in digital roles such as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.
Minister for Digital Margot James said:
It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role.
Inequality in the tech workforce
Research indicates that the tech workforce is predominantly male. According to the government, just 17% of the tech workforce are women.
Moreover, unemployed adults are reportedly 5% more likely to lack the basic digital skills than the national average. The £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund will attempt to address this skills gap.
The project will focus on the teaching of basic digital skills. The scheme will include booking GP appointments online, using apps to communicate with friends and family, and using search engines to their full capacity.
Champions of diversity in tech
Back in June, JP Morgan and London tech firms united to improve access to investment for tech startups founded by women and people from minority ethnic communities. The campaign intends to create 300 new tech jobs and raise £15.1m for diverse new companies.
IBM is also advocating diversity. The firm’s 1,500 member blockchain team is led by women, a decision that sits in direct opposition to most other blockchain businesses.
This inequality is completely unnecessary, according to diversity expert Frans Johansson. He argues that a non-diverse company is at a “competitive disadvantage” and those that champion diversity “will succeed much more quickly.”