This week Chloe Rickard our Digital Skills Partnership Coordinator joined other women in Technology, Engineering, Creative and Digital sectors at the first TECwomen CONNECT event.
“TECgirls launched in 2019 from a need for change and a group of proactive people in Cornwall getting together to take action. Over the past two years we’ve grown into an organisation that supports schools, publishes magazines, runs events and provides micro:bits for 100’s of kids across Cornwall.
“One of the great outputs so far has been our blog series called Spotlight on TECwomen. Our interviews have helped to share the stories of over 20 women in Cornwall who work in the technology, engineering and creative digital industries. However, we’ve started to think it isn’t enough just to celebrate these women. We want to give them a place to meet, discuss ideas, and support one another. And like all great ideas, we were not the only ones thinking that.
Here’s what Chloe had to say:
“The Digital Skills Partnership connects private, public and third sector organisations to help improve digital skills provision here in Cornwall, to meet the evolving needs of our economy and community.
A question that’s come up almost every day since I started in July is – what does Digital Skills mean?
Well. It’s tricky. It means different things to different people.
I think I’ve split it into two areas where we can make a difference. First, there are basic digital skills – or Essential digital skills. These are the skills everyone needs for life and work. Sending an email. Managing a calendar. Knowing how to navigate the sixteen different apps your kid’s school uses.”
“The pandemic has increased the divide between those who have these skills, and those who don’t. So much more is online now. Job applications. Benefit payments. To be digitally excluded is to be totally cut off. From training opportunities, from employment, from your community.
It’s worth also mentioning that the digital skills divide is worse for women – who are less likely to have access to kit, and less likely to have these essential skills.
That’s why we’re working with the digital inclusion team at Cornwall council along with other partners to try and tackle the problem.
The other area is higher-level digital skills. This encompasses a really broad range of things – AI, data, programming languages, problem-solving – all things that are vital for a growing tech industry like the one we have in Cornwall to thrive. At the moment, I’m hearing from every employer that I talk to that they just can’t recruit people with the right skills. It’s a problem that needs to be tackled right at the root. Only 19% of the tech workforce are women.”
“If we can show girls in school that they have the opportunity right here in Cornwall, and give them the skillset they need; if we can encourage mothers back into work in the sector; if we can unleash the untapped potential of underemployed women, then we can more than fulfil the needs of a tech talent pipeline.
So in a nutshell, that’s what the Digital Skills Partnership will be working on. We’re hoping to inspire future generations and transform the educational landscape. But we can’t do it without the backing of everyone who’s invested in digital skills. That’s you guys. So please join us, and help create a digital future for Cornwall.”
Photos by Verity Westcott Photography