The University of Birmingham is to offer hundreds of scholarships to under-represented groups in the Midlands to help them improve their skills and secure jobs in the technology sector.
Delivered via £2.4m funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, there will be 600 scholarships (200 per year over 3 years) of £4,000 each available as ‘Women in Tech’ or ‘Diversity in Tech’ awards. Successful applicants will attend Boot Camps in either Full-stack Web Development (Coding) or Data Analytics.
The intensive 24-week part-time programmes aim to help adult learners and working professionals in under-represented groups into digital careers, and students will have the option of studying remotely online or in-person at the University’s new city centre facility The Exchange.
Eight boot camps will take place each year over the next three years, in partnership with 2U, Inc. brand Trilogy Education. Together, the University of Birmingham and Trilogy Education have successfully delivered Boot Camps to over 180 people since 2019.
The courses aim to help address the digital skills gap and the gender imbalance by targeting financial support to unemployed and under-employed people, enabling them to enrol in Boot Camps and to progress into highly skilled, digital careers.
Professor Nicola Wilkin, of the University of Birmingham, said: “Birmingham is quickly becoming a major technology hub attracting businesses from across the country.
“As a leading higher education institution in the region, we want to ensure those in under-represented groups have a pathway into the lucrative and fulfilling careers made possible by the growing technology sector.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for personal professional development. The flexible part-time format of the Boot Camps makes it possible for people to diversify and develop the skills needed for alternate technical careers and reflects our commitment to increasing accessibility and diversity in the technology sector.”
Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham said: “We’re already seeing students who have graduated from our Boot Camps progressing in their careers and contributing to the regional economy. With this new funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, we can continue to develop highly-employable professionals with much sought-after digital skills.”
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Welcoming the announcement, the Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Andy Street, said: “Retraining and upskilling have such critical roles to play in our region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and are a cornerstone of my jobs plan to help 100,000 people into work in the next two years. “We know that training in the skills of the future that employers want and need is a crucial way to help people bounce back into employment quickly, and technology is an area of huge employment possibilities that we must help people get the right skills in.
“The sector offers new, exciting, and future-proof jobs, and digital bootcamps are a great way of helping local people get involved.“Our bootcamps have been a great success and provided a clear pathway for people to move into work, and so I am delighted that we can now continue our great work and get more residents the skills they need to move into the high-quality, well-paid jobs of the future.”
Boot Camp learners can also benefit from mentoring and careers support from tech companies. A network of local and national organisations offer careers support, insight and opportunities helping learners progress into digital careers or self-employment, and achieve higher earnings.
Job-seekers who have studied University of Birmingham Boot Camps have found employment in web development roles within global organisations and local start-ups. For some learners this has been a career change with their previous occupations including midwifery, primary school teaching, engineering and finance.
Meedaxa Ahmed has landed a top job as an integration engineer at Birmingham-based digital innovation company, Synaptek, after graduating from an intensive University of Birmingham Boot Camp
He said: “It’s been great putting what I learnt on the course into practice at my new job as an integration engineer. The programme was intense but it’s absolutely the best decision I’ve made, honestly, it’s changed my life around.”
Former care assistant Sumaya Hassan has secured a job as a junior frontend developer with global activewear brand Gymshark after graduating from an intensive University of Birmingham Boot Camp.
Sumaya said: “Coming from a life science and health care background, learning to code was a huge challenge for me, but it was totally worth it. I couldn’t be happier in my new role with Gymshark and I have the advice and support of the course leaders during and after the course to thank for that. It’s been brilliant putting what I learnt into practice at my new job. I can’t recommend a career in technology highly enough for anyone looking for a change or to upgrade their skills.”