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Institute of Coding: Birkbeck part of major UK digital skills initiative

Posted: Wednesday, 14 February 2018 15:33

The Department for Education highlights Birkbeck’s expertise in widening participation and outreach on day that Institute of Coding announced by Prime Minister at Davos.

Birkbeck will share its experience of widening participation and outreach within the new Institute of Coding, a consortium of more than 60 universities, businesses and industry experts set to receive £20 million to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

The consortium is formed of businesses including IBM, Cisco, BT and Microsoft, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 25 universities (led by University of Bath), and professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and CREST.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about how the Institute of Coding, a key part of the government’s efforts to drive up digital skills through the Industrial Strategy, will equip people of all ages with the skills they need.

Participating in the foundation of the new Institute of Coding will build on the continued success of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017 making it one of the UK’s longest-established departments of computing. The department’s mission remains the same, to provide programmes suited to those in work looking to attain computing skills, build confidence and professional networks, and advance their knowledge. It is expected that participation in the Institute of Coding will afford new opportunities for the department to expand its provision for those at work, out of work, and to provide bespoke programmes for graduates of subjects other than Computing wishing to change career to roles required by the global digital economy.

Considered in historical terms or in light of contemporary reports, women, people returning to work and people from BME backgrounds are particularly underrepresented within the computing sector. Women currently represent just five per cent of computer scientists. Fair participation in computing and business was the theme of Dame Stephanie Shirley’s Andrew and Kathleen Booth Lecture in November 2017, and the department has made substantial progress to ensure its own participation structures are robustly fit for purpose in the coming years.

Professor Mark Levene said: “Our participation in the Institute of Coding will seek to address underrepresentation in computing careers and provide further opportunities for lifelong learners and those who wish to up-skill in their career; however it will also provide the opportunity to learn from other institutions committed to tackling these issues. We welcome the opportunity for this type of knowledge exchange between businesses, universities and professional organisations to the benefit of students and the UK economy.”