This year, Equate has been engaged in a project supporting Ukrainian refugees resettling in Scotland to enter or return to tech careers. The programme, delivered in partnership with Capital City Partnership, The Royal Bank of Scotland (Natwest), and Code First Girls, has supported Ukrainian women with their digital and employability skills.
Tech job opportunities have hit a 10-year high with a huge increase in demand for technology products and services over the past two years. However, there is a major skills gap in the technology sector and, as things stand, there will be only one qualified woman for every 115 technology roles by 2025. The Office for National Statistics labour force survey data from June 2022 showed that while there were over 500,000 men working as programmers, software development professionals, web design professionals and data analysts, there were only 113,900 women doing these jobs – just 18.17%.
Last year there were more than two million UK job vacancies in tech, more than any other labour area, however, only 26% of the technology workforce in the UK are women. In February this year, Skills Development Scotland reported occupations in the highest demand included programmers and software development professionals, however, Scotland continues to face digital economy skills pressures.
The tech industry can offer significant opportunities for women with tech skills as we continue to build a more diverse and inclusive industry in Scotland. The opportunity this year to be involved in supporting displaced Ukrainian women to enter or re-enter a tech career has been a positive step in diversifying the Scottish tech sector.
We launched the ‘Become a Software Engineer’ Women in Tech pilot delivered with Royal Bank of Scotland (Natwest), Code First Girls, and Capital City Partnership back in March of this year. We first connected with Ukrainian women at the Ukrainian Community Centre (AUGB) in Edinburgh and aboard MS Victoria, a cruise ship docked in Edinburgh which served as temporary accommodation for families from Ukraine to discuss the support available and the application process.
Funded by Capital City Partnership, Equate Scotland designed a programme of career development support to help the cohort with confidence for career change, networking, CVs, and interview preparation to further support the women in their journey into a software engineering career. We worked to bridge the digital divide and remove any technology barriers the Ukrainian women may be facing by providing the opportunity of a laptop loan service to those who needed it thus ensuring women were not prevented from participating in the programme due to lack of equipment.
Following completion of the 8-weeks of Code First Girls introductory classes, ten Ukrainian women then had the opportunity to complete the 16-week Code First Girls Degree. Equate supported the candidates in their preparation for interview and successful candidates, following completion of the training and passing of the learning outcomes will then be offered employment in a permanent role at NatWest in Edinburgh as Trainee Software Engineers.
Next Steps in STEM
Equate continues to support Ukrainian women who registered interest in the programme in their next steps in STEM and we currently have Capital City Partnership funding available to extend career development support to Edinburgh-based Ukrainian parents (Women and non-binary people) seeking to enter or re-enter a STEM career. Should you or anyone in your network benefit from this support or you would like to find out more please contact us by emailing .
- UK tech talent shortage threatens to stifle growth in the industry – BBC News
- UK tech job opportunities hit a 10-year high, says new report – Tech Nation
- Skills Development Scotland, Economy, People and Skills March 2023. PowerPoint Presentation (skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk)
- digital-economy-skills-action-plan.pdf (skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk)
- Diversity in Tech Report (techtalentcharter.co.uk)
- RBS & Code First Girls partner to offer displaced Ukrainian women opportunities in coding | Scottish Financial News
- Royal Bank of Scotland partners with Code First Girls (agcc.co.uk)
- Offering Ukrainian women a new start in technology | NatWest Group