IT services giant Accenture is donating nearly half a million pounds to a UK software development and data skills bootcamp targeted at young people who are not in education.
Accenture’s £450,000 donation will enable the programme organisers to fund the training element of apprenticeships, mainly at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are offered to graduates of the bootcamp.
The free bootcamp, Tech Talent Accelerator, is run by non-profit youth employability programme Generation UK and education technology (edtech) startup Multiverse. It was created to support young people who face barriers to gaining employment. It is open to 18-24-year-olds without a university degree. The six-week programme teaches coding, full-stack development and web development, and culminates in IT apprenticeships at employers.
There is also a focus on driving representation and diversity in the tech industry. Over the past 12 months, 80% of participants have come from an ethnic minority background, while 50% were female.
Generation UK recruits candidates to the scheme, while Multiverse places those who graduate into apprenticeships with employers.
One graduate of the Tech Talent Accelerator is 21-year-old Farana Jivan. While studying medicine overseas, she decided it was not the career for her and returned to the UK, where she started offering tutoring services.
It was while building a website to support her freelance tutoring business that she discovered an unexpected talent for IT. “I had to create a website to demonstrate my skills but didn’t want to pay someone to do it, so I learned basic website development skills. While I was learning, I thought ‘I am not too bad at this’.”
Jivan found she was picking things up quickly and decided to push herself. Through a family friend, she was introduced to the Tech Talent Accelerator, which she applied to join through Generation UK. After two entry exams, an online interview and a small final exam, she was offered a place on a course, which she described as very intensive, but also suitable for people without an IT background.
As well as the tech training, the course helps participants understand the working life of tech professionals, said Jivan. This includes completing projects on their own and in groups. “This was great because when you apply for jobs or apprenticeships employers want people that have completed projects. You can give employers these stories and they like that,” she said.
Candida Mottershead, Accenture UK
After completing the course, candidates are connected with employers for potential apprenticeships. Multiverse connects graduates with employers where their profiles and the employer’s requirements match.
“I have already got three applications for apprenticeships in progress and I am in the final stage of one application for an online content developer apprenticeship,” said Jivan.
Training comprises about 20% of an apprenticeship and is delivered by training providers at a cost. The Accenture money will help Tech Talent Accelerator organisers pay for this.
“To find exceptional talent, every company must broaden its horizons and not simply focus on hiring from the same sources,” said Multiverse founder Euan Blair, who is the son of former prime minister Tony Blair.
He added that the funding from Accenture would help participants of the programme to start a range of apprenticeships in data and tech, and would support small businesses and startups in finding apprentices.
Candida Mottershead, HR director at Accenture UK, said it was a challenging time for young people as they navigate what is already an uncertain time at the beginning of their careers.
“When you pair this with the fact that the pandemic has exacerbated what was already a significant digital skills gap, we risk letting down and missing the potential of a talented generation,” she said. “As the demand for technology skills continues to grow, businesses must do all they can to empower young people with the skills they need to succeed in their career, which is why schemes like this are vital.”