Short, online courses can help balance gender and diversity issues in digital ed, says IoC

The Institute of Coding and partners are seeing a near gender balance in a digital skills programme that has enrolled more than half a million students

The Institute of Coding (IoC) yesterday announced that it’s seeing some level of gender parity and increased diversity in some of its short courses – including its collection of digital skills e-learning programmes hosted by FutureLearn, in partnership with the University of Leeds.

The Digital Skills for the Workforce programmes account for 500,000 of the IoC’s digital enrolments, offering 15 courses in subjects such as creating a professional online presence, basic computer programming and communication. The collection has been specifically-designed to upskill the workforce and help address the UK’s growing digital skills gap, with more than 75% of business executives experiencing significant challenges in digital recruitment, according to Deloitte.

The Digital Skills online portfolio has proved an attractive offer to a broad range of applicants, including women (47% of enrolments), mature learners (more than 50% of applicants), and people who are looking for work or are at different points in their career (19% of applicants are unemployed or looking for work, while 48% are working full-time, part-time or are self-employed).

“I’m pleased such a diverse group of learners is reaping the benefits of these fantastic courses and I urge anyone looking to improve their digital know-how to sign up,” said Caroline Dinenage, the UK’s minister of state for digital and culture.

“Our digital economy can help power the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus and we are determined to make sure everyone can develop the digital skills they need to succeed in the workplace,” she added.

The programmes’ impact on the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic has been acknowledged by the Department for Education (DfE), which featured six of the 15 programmes in a new platform called The Skills Toolkit – which offers free digital and numeracy courses to help close the nation’s skills gap.

The adoption of flexible/blended and modular educational delivery forms part of the IoT’s mission to upskill and future-proof the UK workforce – especially in a time where the professional landscape continues to be transformed by the pandemic. According to Statista, 9.3m citizens have been temporarily out of work since the start of the outbreak, with a further 1.56m that are currently unemployed. Research also suggests that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as figures show they are more likely to be laid off than men.

Rachid Hourizi, director of the IoC, commented: “It is clear that, as the UK’s economy turns to the tech sector for recovery, a broad and diverse group of people will need digital skills. H0wever, the national digital skills gap still requires a fundamental structural change that aligns employers and educators more closely together, while helping individuals navigate the landscape of digital education. The Institute of Coding is leading the charge when it comes to encouraging this change, through campaigns such as CTRL Your Future and collaboration with leading employer bodies like techUK. Lockdown has signalled a real appetite for more accessible and flexible courses and we’re here to meet this demand.”

In other news: More than half of students lacked access to online materials during lockdown, OfS survey suggests


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