UKFast, the country’s largest privately-owned hosting provider, and Manchester High School for Girls, one of the city’s top performing schools, have joined forces in a bid to tackle the widening gender gap across the tech industries.Left to right are Year 9 pupils Natasha Oldbury, Lauren Hinton and Karina Sodha
The official educational partnership will see UKFast deliver curricular support, technical workshops, work experience and advice on career pathways to the school’s 938 pupils, aged from four to 18.
UKFast employs four full-time teachers and three full-time trainers to deliver these programmes, alongside a multi-award-winning apprenticeship scheme that has just received its largest ever intake.Aaron Saxton, director of training and education at UKFast (centre), with Year 9 pupils Lauren Hinton (left) and Karina Sodha (right).
Lawrence Jones MBE, UKFast CEO, said: “We all know that there is a massive digital skills gap in this country; add to that fact that women are also hugely under-represented in the sector and you’re left with something of a problem.
Every business needs balance; our board is 60/40 women to men, but our technical department does not reflect this split. There aren’t enough female engineers coming through to fill the roles.
We want to open the eyes of girls, and their parents, about the wealth of career opportunities in the tech sector so; this partnership with Manchester High makes complete sense. We have been working with them on an ad-hoc basis for the past three years and love how inspired and empowered their pupils are. MHSG actually bucks the national trend when it comes to students choosing to study STEM areas both in school, at university and beyond so there is an extraordinary opportunity for this partnership to further enhance that.”
With a long and proud history of educating women that have gone on to change the world, Manchester High’s alumnae boasts the famous suffragette sisters, Sylvia, Christabel and Adela Pankhurst, through to present day business leaders such as Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice-President of Facebook EMEA, and Jenny Campbell, the latest millionaire entrepreneur to join the Dragon’s Den panel.Claire Hewitt
Headmistress, Claire Hewitt,said: “At Manchester High we know that it is through engagement with commercial organisations, such as UKFast, and real world project work that the next generation of talent will be inspired.
However, this partnership isn’t just about encouraging girls to pursue careers in science and technology; it’s also equipping our pupils with vital resilience skills and letting them know it’s OK not to succeed at everything first time.
With girls, there is often the driving need for perfection right away, yet the inherent ‘trial and error’ nature of science and tech allows them to expand their thinking beyond societal conditioning. Boys typically find it easier to move on from failure to the next task, the next challenge and at Manchester High we see no reason why girls shouldn’t develop the same skill set.”