The UK needs 100,000 new graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects every year. But currently only 6% of the workforce in STEM related subjects are female. Research conducted by the Welsh government has shown that a staggering 93% of parents would not support their daughter to pursue a career in a STEM subject. But, when asked at school, 39% of girls said they enjoy Information Technology, Computing and Design Technology.
Employing around 5,000 people in Swansea, DVLA was one of the first government departments to bring its IT function ‘in house’ and has one of the largest self-sufficient IT departments in government. This puts us in a perfect position to share our knowledge and expertise with the up-and-coming generations, to try and encourage a culture change that will get more women into IT roles.
Bring your daughter to work
We’ve recently introduced a ‘bring your daughter to work’ day. Here we aim to close the gender gap in IT by inviting staff to bring their daughters to work in a bid to spark interest from girls to consider a career in IT.
We want to encourage girls, who often give up on IT once they join secondary school, to keep going with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and add them to their choices for exams as they go through secondary school.
DVLA’s chief technology officer Brian Sullivan said:
“We’re well aware that there are more men than women working in the IT sector and this is just one of the ways in which we are trying to change that here in Swansea.
“If we can encourage more girls to take an interest from an early age, in 10 years we will have more local women qualified and ready for a career in IT. It would be great to see them working here at DVLA.”
‘Bring your daughter to work’ is just one of our initiatives in this space. We also run events where all children aged 11 to 13 are invited to spend the day at DVLA and try some fun coding activities, learn about new technologies and pick up some new skills along the way.
All content is age appropriate, light and interactive where possible. At the end of the day there’s a topical, fun quiz based on the learning gained from the day, with prizes too – always a hit with the children.
Some feedback we’ve had from the children, teachers and parents:
“It was really good and a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.”
“I thought we were going to be sat at computers and that it would be a bit boring, but it’s been really fun. The activities were very good.”
“Good presentation. Activities were fun and pitched at the right level. The children were engaged throughout.”
“In the future these skills will be used back at school for coding tasks.”
“I think it was a great experience & should be rolled out for all schools.”
“Must have listened well as she told me about it after the day!”
This feedback is a good indicator that we were able to inspire participants to want to continue their learning journey. It certainly meets with our vision of investing in digital skills.
What’s coming next
Capability and Talent Development Lead, Karen Clark said, “Our aim is to ensure that as an agency, we continue to support and grow the digital skills of young people in the local region and this is a brilliant opportunity to inspire the next generation.
Along with promoting the learning of STEM subjects, this is a great way for us to position DVLA as a leading digital and technology employer and a great place to work for future generations.”