Accenture has signed up as the first employer to back Girl Geeks Campus, which aims to support females interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).
The nationwide programme has already launched at Newcastle and Northumbria universities. Accenture will provide students with mentoring and career guidance, in addition to opportunities to meet industry role models and develop professional skills.
Accenture's Newcastle delivery centre managing director, Bob Paton, said this is a vital initiative to encourage more women to pursue Stem careers, both in the north-east and across the UK.
“Businesses – particularly those like Accenture, where we recruit Stem graduates – need to collaborate with the education sector to engage more females who are about to embark on their career paths," he said.
“This exciting programme will increase access to career opportunities for female Stem students and ultimately help them to fulfil their potential.”
Girl Geeks Limited director Mia Chapman said promoting diversity in the Stem sectors is vital.
“I am incredibly proud to be working with Accenture, Newcastle University and Northumbria University to have the opportunity to prove the Girl Geeks Campus concept in supporting students and am looking forward to the positive impact it will bring to the talent pipeline," she said.
“Girl Geeks Campus has been developed as a concept to increase the role of technical females in education and, subsequently, industry. Our collaboration with academia and industry employers is the next progression for us to support the development of women and the skills needed to have a rewarding career in Stem.”
Stem core to future economy, culture and wellbeing
Rebecca Strachan, associate dean for business and engagement within the faculty of engineering and environment at Northumbria University, said technology, science and engineering are areas that will be core to the future economy, culture and wellbeing of society.
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“It is important we encourage a good gender balance to enter these professions,” she said. "Girl Geeks is part of the university’s wider commitment to be a beacon for Stem engagement, working with partners to inspire the next generation of technologists, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians."
According to Newcastle University head of the school of computing science Aad van Moorsel, computing impacts our lives more than ever and is instrumental in professional and leisure activities.
“To exploit all these opportunities to the fullest, we want to attract women from all ages to study computer science and pursue computing careers. Our strong relations with local industry help us with our mission, and we are delighted to team up with Girl Geeks and Accenture to bridge the skills gender gap.”
The government recently announced plans for a Northern Futures University Technical College (UTC) in a bid skill up young people in information technology and healthcare sciences.
Unveiled by the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, the Northern Futures UTC aims to be open in September 2017 and is targeted at students aged between 14 and 18. The curriculum will be designed to equip students with skills for "careers of the future".
IT employers involved in the UTC so far are Accenture, Sage, HP.