My name is Amy Grange, I work as an Applications Consultant & Developer at Capgemini. I joined Capgemini in July 2012 as part of the Higher Apprenticeship programme in which I can study towards my degree whilst gaining vital experience in the industry. I have a strong passion for promoting apprenticeships and gender equality in the technology industry. (Twitter - @amygrangex)
On Tuesday 15th March, as part of national apprenticeship week 2016, I was asked to our office in Holborn, London to talk apprenticeships! “Talking apprenticeships” is pretty much in my nature now, however, there was something a little more special about this particular session that I had been asked to attend. Not only were we to discuss the apprenticeship opportunities at Capgemini, but, we were to focus on how we move forward with our recruitment of apprentices and most importantly, how we reach out to all of the talented females out there to bridge the gender diversity gap.
Earlier that day, I saw some statistics which stated that as it stands, we currently have a massive 354 apprentices under our wings (wow! that number was a lot smaller when I joined back in 2012) and 17% of those apprentices are female. I was actually a little surprised at this percentage - it was higher than I thought it would be!
There were other apprentices attending the session (both male and female), representatives from the junior talent programme team and of the senior management team. The icing on the cake was that our CEO, Paul Margetts, was also in attendance. Sitting in the room, made me think back to the statistic I had seen earlier in the day, I was surrounded, not only by many females, but, by some of the most inspirational female apprentices I have ever met. Apprentices, who, like me, have a passion for “talking apprenticeships” and bridging the gender diversity gap in technology.
The session began, like all other sessions, with brief introductions about who we are, what we do and what brings us to the session. “I’m Amy Grange, I joined Capgemini in Summer 2012, etc, etc…”. What really stuck into my head about these introductions was the variety of roles that all attendees fulfilled within Capgemini and technology as a whole. During the introduction from our CEO, Paul Margetts, he told us of his story and how he came to be in his position and how he holds such strong motivation to bridge the gender diversity gap!
As a whole the session was very open and inspirational. For once, it was great to hear of the problems or worries that our female apprentices had faced in taking the leap into a career in technology or with the nature of work. Being open and frank about these issues, allowed us to discuss how we can potentially avoid these issues with our future recruits.
A main focus of conversation fell on common misconceptions about what actually is a career is technology? Whilst it may seem obvious to those who work in the technology world, there are many people out there that have no idea what goes in to building a system or a piece of software that even they might use on a daily basis! How do we even try and get talent through our doors if they don’t necessarily understand our industry and the array of different career paths within technology? During this conversation, focus fell onto the schools. Apprentices, like me, reeled off anecdotes of how their schools/colleges/sixth forms informed them of all opportunities relating to university and further education paths but never actually mentioned apprenticeships or in some cases were against their students taking on apprenticeships.
In recent years there seems to be not only more of a push from the government surrounding apprenticeships, in particular girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths), but also technology within the school curriculum. When I was in primary school, we had an IT suite installed (which consisted of around 20 desktop computers for use my hundreds of students) when I was in year 5, now, schools have readily available access to good quality IT equipment from as early as reception and year 1. It has also come to my attention through a number of apprenticeship events with students that they are not only learning about computing from an early age but are also enjoying it!
Schools in the UK need to educate students about apprenticeship opportunities, we need to educate students about our industry. It was great to see that Paul was very keen about further promoting our industry, Capgemini and technology within schools in attempt to educate students, and females, from a young age about the opportunities that will be available to them once they have completed their studies. Now all we have to do is think up some innovative ways that we can deliver this ….!