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Coding apprenticeships to close the tech gender gap

Staff from UK Parliament posing with some of the coding apprentices
©UK Parliament

Parliament recently partnered with Code First Girls to recruit and train seven women in data and product roles. This is part of our efforts to widen our talent pool and improve inclusion and diversity in digital and tech roles.

The gender gap

There is a gender gap in the tech industry. The 2022 pay gap data published by PDS benchmarks our data against an IT industry in which around 22% of employees are women. There are even fewer women in leadership roles, and a 16% gender pay gap across the entire industry. 

Compared to these statistics, PDS is doing well. As our pay gap report shows, 41% of our employees are women. But that doesn’t mean that we as an organisation should think our work is done. A lot has happened in Parliament to support closing the gender gap, and this new partnership with Code First Girls is one example of our continued efforts.

Training new coders

The organisation Code First Girls was selected as an initial partnership to help close the gender gap in PDS. They work with women and non-binary people, and 53% of their community is from ethnicities under-represented in tech and 14% identify as neurodivergent. They have so far taught more than 120,000 people to code globally and partnered with more than 120 companies and 80 universities.

Parliament has worked with Code First Girls since the beginning of this year to establish what our partnership will look like. It was decided that we would recruit talent for our product team and data team. Candidates from Code First Girls were able to apply for roles, and they were then interviewed by managers within the relevant teams at Parliament.

Supporting new colleagues

One of the challenges of this project was thinking about the teams the candidates would be joining, and what the teams might need to support their new colleagues. Each candidate has heir own needs and requirements. We considered what’s already available in Parliament for employees, such as our workplace equality networks and career coaching, and how to make the best use of them. 

With this being a new initiative for Parliament, we’re keen to get it right, but also learn along the way with feedback from everyone involved.  

What happens next

Parliament was overwhelmed with interest in these roles. We’re excited to welcome the successful candidates into their teams in September, where some will join our Product directorate, and others will join our Data team, all for a 12-month contract.   

There are a few things we’d love to achieve from this partnership. Above all, we want to give our new colleagues enough experience, skills, and understanding to successfully apply for permanent digital and tech roles in Parliament.  

We’ll also get feedback from our new colleagues throughout the placement about what we’re doing well and what we can improve on. This will help us continue our efforts in ensuring PDS is an inclusive and welcoming employer.  

And finally, we’re looking at how we can continue this relationship beyond the first year. We’ll use the next twelve months to learn how best to support our new colleagues so that they have everything they need to develop and feel confident enough to apply for their next role. We are also continuing to explore other possible partnerships so we can continue to widen and diversify our digital talent pool.

If you are interested in joining PDS, browse our vacancies.

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