Inspiring tech role models recently met with 135 female secondary school students from across Leeds to share their experiences of working in tech, discuss digital skills and galvanise local young women with the confidence to pursue careers in the sector.
In early May, the city’s fifth GirlTechLeeds event took place at the Asda Merchandising Centre of Excellence and Exhibition Centre. Co-funded by Netcompany and Leeds City Council, GirlTechLeeds connected young women with female professionals from tech companies like Infinity Works, AND Digital and BJSS and cross-sector digital employers including Sulzer and Page White Farrer.
Founded and delivered by Ahead Partnership, leaders in developing ESG solutions and delivering measurable social impact through business partnerships, the interactive tech and digital experience day involved exciting practical activities such as panels, workshops and careers networking. Reaching out to 12-14-year-old female students at a pivotal stage before they make their GCSE subject choices, the event helped to equip the young women with up-to-date information on opportunities in tech and the skills required to succeed.
Megan Lipp, head of development at Ahead Partnership, said: “We were extremely proud to host our fifth GirlTechLeeds event, which is testament to the popularity of this initiative among the city’s schools and businesses alike.
“This event forms part of the calendar of activities comprising our Growing Talent Digital Leeds programme, which sees businesses collaborate and commit to a meaningful, long-term approach to opening up digital skills to people from all backgrounds.
“By enabling students to meet face-to-face with employers, we’re providing a platform for them to ask questions and gather careers advice from professionals already succeeding in this space. This is a practical way for our sponsoring businesses to play their part in shaping a more inclusive future for digital and tech and raise the profile of opportunities available to the next generation of talent.
“GirlTechLeeds has proven so successful that we are now planning GirlTechPlus later in the year for Post-16 students in Leeds to reap the benefits too.”
Kirstie Van Oerle, Partner at Netcompany, also commented: “It was great to be in the room and collaborating with so many other forward-thinking employers from across the city’s business community through GirlTechLeeds.
“Businesses like ours need a strong talent pipeline and benefit from fresh ideas in order to thrive, which makes engaging the next generation of the workforce a priority. Sadly, women are still underrepresented in the sector, so we’re helping to proactively tackle this issue through targeted activities like GirlTechLeeds, working with Ahead Partnership to reach female students from right across the city.”
After speaking to employers and learning more about the different roles available in digital, the number of students interested in digital careers rose to 90%, with 95% of the young participants confident that they understood the skills needed for a successful digital career.
GirlTechLeeds forms part of Growing Talent Digital Leeds, a wider careers and skills initiative being delivered by Ahead Partnership to connect digital employers with young people from underrepresented groups and areas in the city. Through masterclasses, careers panels, festivals and events, the programme aims to help young people understand the importance of digital skills for future roles.
Ahead Partnership’s meaningful employer-led work to engage young people with opportunities in digital has been highlighted at multiple industry awards ceremonies in recent months. Growing Talent Digital Leeds won the Diversity and Inclusion category at the latest Leeds Digital Festival Awards, recognised for its work to help over 12,000 young people from across the city to discover more about digital skills and careers in tech. Earlier this year, Ahead Partnership’s Growing Talent Digital schemes across the UK also won the Future of Work category at the national Digital Leaders Impact Awards.
AND Digital; BJSS; Leeds Trinity University; Red Kite Games; Leeds City Council; Leeds City College, Infinity Works; Aire Logic, PwC and Netcompany are among sponsors of the wide range of activities taking place throughout the annual programme.