WISE response to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report
The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report this morning provides plenty of food for thought. The fact that women’s economic participation and opportunity is regressing is something that we need to tackle now.
The report suggests that two of the reasons for the regression are the fact that many jobs that will be automated are held by women and that women are not entering fast growing, well-paid professions, such as technology.
This is why we have been urging employers and the government to take action now and provide opportunities for retraining for women. There is a huge untapped potential of women who have so much to bring to technology; communications skills, people skills, problem solving, and business experience. Creating opportunities through returner and retraining schemes for women to move into these roles offers a perfect solution and help to fill them quickly. If we scaled up these schemes across the UK, we could also speed up progress and close the gender gap sooner.
Research shows that 45% of women on career breaks would be interested in returner programmes, 45% of women would be willing to retrain to acquire new technical skills, and 97% say technical skills are fundamental to the future of the UK economy.
There are many organisations already embracing the opportunity to find employees with valuable transferable skills who want to either return to a previous career, or retrain and move into new and exciting roles, including employers such as Lloyds Banking Group which runs a women returners professional network and the BBC which runs an annual Step into Tech training course. The course provides training and a route into software engineering for women.
We’d like to see this scaled up across the UK to create more opportunities for women to move into Technology roles.