Employers back IT clubs for girls

Employers have pledged time, money and resources worth 22m to support the national roll-out of a scheme to encourage more young women to take up careers in IT.

Employers have pledged time, money and resources worth 22m to support the national roll-out of a scheme to encourage more young women to take up careers in IT.

The Computer Clubs for Girls initiative, which will be rolled out to 3,600 schools within three years, aims to reverse the declining percentage of women working in the IT profession.

The scheme, which has 8.3m start-up funding from the government, has won backing from companies including Ford, British Airways, EDS, IBM, Orange and Cisco, which have offered resources and staff volunteers to help run the programme.

"If companies like Ford do not give support to computer clubs, the number of females in the industry is going to decline year on year," said Jayne Miles, European IT infrastructure manager at Ford.

The clubs encourage girls to learn IT skills, including web design, word processing and spreadsheet construction, by taking part in projects based on pop music and fashion and publishing,

A pilot scheme, which created computer clubs for 3,500 girls in the South East, revealed that two-thirds of the girls were interested in careers in IT after attending the clubs.

"At the moment, women make up only 20% of the IT workforce. Add to this the fact that only 20% of those undertaking IT-related degree courses are women - we need more women to consider technology-led careers," said Karen Price, chief executive of sector skills council E-Skills UK.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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