Gernot Krautberger - stock.adobe
Muslamic Makers has developed a programme designed to help people from a Muslim background in the UK to develop skills, receive coaching and learn more about possible digital careers.
The Muslamic Makers Digital Careers Kickstarter Programme will take place over four months, giving participants access to work experience, mentors and networking with industry professionals.
Arfah Farooq, co-founder of Muslamic Makers, said: “As somebody who greatly benefited from being on a programme when I was in my final year of university, which is the reason I work in the technology world, I know how much impact a structured programme like this could have on the course of somebody’s life. I’ve been wanting to create a programme for Muslamic Makers for a while.”
Looking into the ethnic backgrounds of people working in technology, research by BCS has found that the number of workers in tech from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds only make up 18% of the tech sector – around 8% of IT specialists are of Indian ethnicity, 2% from a black, African, Caribbean or black British background, and 2% from Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds.
Farooq claimed that part of the goal of the programme is to prevent the technology industry’s diversity divide from getting any wider, especially during the current climate where particular ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Muslamic Makers programme is open to people from a Muslim background in the UK who are over the age of 18 and are either not going to university, are in their final year of university, recent graduates, underemployed, single mothers, or looking to return to work after a career break.
As part of the programme, which will run from October 2020 to January 2021, participants will receive introductory training on topics such as user research, product development, prototyping, design and data.
They will also receive mentoring from personal coaches, work experience projects, and introductions to technology professionals who are part of the Muslamic Makers network.
Farooq applied for funding for the project through the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Covid-19 action relief fund, receiving a grant of £2,000.
Many people outside of the technology sector do not have a good understanding of the roles available, what skills are needed for those jobs or how they might go about moving into the industry, and are instead being exposed to unrepresentative stereotypes of who works in the sector.
Farooq said that he Muslamic Makers Digital Careers Kickstarter Programme aims to solve this by giving participants exposure to the sector and an idea of what is involved in digital roles.
She said: “Covid-19 is only going to make the tech gap wider as doors are being closed on many people. People from our community don’t have the networks or understand the various roles [in tech].
“This programme really allows people to be exposed to it through workshops, having challenges set by businesses so they can ‘try it’, but most importantly having an industry professional to coach them and guide them along the journey.”
The programme is currently looking for coaches, either from a Muslim background or allies of the community, with digital experience who are willing to help participants during their time on the programme.
Applications for the free programme close on 31 August 2020.
Read more about diversity in the technology sector
- Coding bootcamp operators must actively engage with issues of access, diversity and inclusion if they want to stop reproducing the same gendered, racialised and class-based outcomes the tech sector keeps promising.
- The government's initiatives to support tech firms during the pandemic are very welcome, but they risk entrenching old behaviours that restrict the move towards greater diversity in the sector.