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PA OPINION

Diversity and digital technologies: what can we learn from the next generation?

According to a report published last year by Tech Nation – a group that supports UK-based technology entrepreneurs – the digital tech sector is worth around £184 billion to the UK economy, and it grew 2.6 times faster than any other sector in 2018. Coupled with the fact that the number of jobs in the field rose five times faster than other industries, there’s undoubtedly a need for the future workforce to be digitally literate.

Despite the importance of digital for the future of society, it continues to lack diversity. That same report found that while 49 per cent of the UK workforce are women, just 19 per cent of those in the digital tech industry are. Furthermore, just 15 per cent of people in digital tech jobs are of black, Asian and ethnic minority background. It’s clear we must do more to promote diversity in the sector.

At PA, we believe improving diversity in digital tech is the most important way to ensure the industry continues to flourish. Not only is it right that gender, race and other personal attributes shouldn’t hinder careers, it’s also true that diverse teams produce the best work. We know this because we always work in diverse teams of experts to bring ingenuity to life.

To promote diversity and develop the next generation of digital innovators, we host an annual Raspberry Pi Competition and Springboard work experience programme. And in 2019, we teamed up with Career Accelerator – an education business that empowers young people from diverse backgrounds to realise their full potential – to deliver a workshop for 20 secondary school students from The Crest Academy in North London. Supporting students from state schools and predominantly ethnic minority backgrounds, the Career Accelerator programme provides mentoring and work experience opportunities.

The workshop was a stark reminder of the creativity and ingenuity a diverse workforce brings. As part of the afternoon, we challenged students with a series of problems, that despite limited time, they handled incredibly well. Their presentations revealed three key lessons:

1. Young people want their career to have a social impact

One student told us: “PA helps society economically, environmentally and socially… that’s something I would love to do!” It’s a sentiment echoed by the others, demonstrating that the motivations of the future workforce are increasingly altruistic. This will undoubtedly build towards a positive human future as this socially responsible generation explores the potential for digital tech to improve people’s lives.

2. Diversity brings ingenuity

We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world, and diversity of thought drives this ingenuity. Enabled by the ability to work collaboratively, it was the range of ideas the groups brought together that allowed them to develop such innovative thinking. Currently, the homogenous nature of the digital tech sector is hindering this diversity of thought and therefore constraining potential.

3. The digital revolution has a lot more to come

In our increasingly digital world, it’s easy to think we’re approaching a plateau. Don’t count on it. The generation that the students represent have lived their entire lives in the digital age, their experiences and digital literacy intertwined from the very beginning. Being natives to the language of technology, there is undoubtedly considerable progress to come.

We’re sure the experiences offered by Career Accelerator will help these talented young people to become the future innovators of society. And from the ingenuity they showed at our workshop, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at PA in the future, driving forwards our work in digital tech.

“The volunteers from PA Consulting did an incredible job of designing and delivering a really fun and informative session to our students. It's not every day that these pupils would get the opportunity to learn from seven accomplished, driven and friendly employees in one afternoon! It was a pleasure to work with such a professional and inclusive organisation. Thank you, PA Consulting, for working so hard to invest in the next generation of diverse talent.”

Mayur Gupta, Founder and CEO of Career Accelerator

 

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