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Young people need better role models and representation in the tech sector, Greater Birmingham reports    

Following a city-wide initiative that engaged more than 125 young people, a report has launched in Greater Birmingham exploring young peoples’ views towards the technology sector in the city.

1001 Trades, a project delivered by Doink, a division of youth collective Beatfreeks, funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and national innovation foundation Nesta, engaged young people using innovative techniques, including a public art installation to uncover some of the barriers and opportunities surrounding their access to the technology industry.

The project aims to highlight and address the technical skills and engagement gaps amongst local young people and careers in the technology sector. Local young people, between the ages of 16 and 25 from South and City College, Birmingham; Millennium Point, Birmingham; Birmingham Metropolitan College, Birmingham and; Bournville College, Birmingham, were invited to identify future opportunities in the provision of technology training in the city through a series of events, workshops and conversations.

Key findings highlight that only 16% believe representative marketing materials are important, while 51% want deeper, better and more direct engagement from those who look like them in order to feel confident to pursue careers in tech.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Better representation means deeper connections with role models: 50% of young people want to work alongside/hear from people who look like them
  • Young people want greater autonomy over how they learn: 35% want more hands-on tech projects in schools
  • Tech can be made more exciting through real life experience: 66% want real-life tech examples to work on to make learning environments more exciting

The findings of the report will help to shape GBSLEP’s Skills Delivery Plan, and the delivery of interventions to help address some of these barriers. The project will also inform GBSEP’s new Future Economy Initiative, which looks to meaningfully and directly engage young people in policy design, particularly in designing the future of the Greater Birmingham economy.

Sophie Drake, Director for Young People at the GBSLEP, said:

The 1001 Trades project highlights some of the factors that matter to young people when exploring opportunities and careers in tech, an industry that is having an impact on almost every sector across the world. Speaking to young people and hearing their views, it became clear that lip service marketing is not effective and instead, employers must invest in creating deeper relationships, focused on time, support and experience to help young people tap into the opportunities opening up in tech and tech-related jobs in the city region.

“The findings provide us with a deep understanding of why so comparatively few young people are choosing careers in the tech sector and what we need to do to help change this. Moving forward, the data from 1001 Trades will be vital in shaping interventions by GBSLEP to combat skills shortages that impact the region and its high growth sectors.”

Tony Bhajam, Founder and CEO of The Beatfreeks Collective, said:

Our local young people are the next generation of business leaders and decision makers and it is important that they are counted as key decision makers in the process of developing policies.

“Our organisation uses methods that focus on the co-creation of solutions to problems, we create environments where ideas are exchanged and approaches that identify and map skills. In this case, we were able to bring together young people, business leaders and policy makers to drive a new kind of conversation about skills, employment and the future.

“It’s good to know, that the work we do with young people and employers will have a real and tangible impact on the future growth of the city.”

GBSLEP, Doink/Beatfreeks and Nesta would like to take the opportunity to thank the young people, employers and education and venue partners the South & City College Birmingham, Bournville College, Millennium Point and Birmingham Metropolitan College for their support in the project.

The full report can be downloaded here https://www.beatfreeks.com/1001trades.

For more information, please contact Tony Bhajam at Doink: tony@beatfreeks.com, or to find out about ways to partner with GBSLEP visit www.gbslep.co.uk.