Technology: Equality

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered at on 4 December 2023.

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Photo of Lord Watson of Invergowrie Lord Watson of Invergowrie Labour

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, in conjunction with employers, to increase diversity within the UK technology sector.

Photo of Viscount Camrose Viscount Camrose Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Government is committed to increasing diversity within the technology sector. We do this by working with external organisations and employers, and highly value this collaboration to overcome current barriers. We are also improving diversity in the cyber security sector through the National Cyber Strategy. This focuses particularly on attracting more woman and girls to the cyber profession, and includes the CyberFirst Girls Competition which saw over 12,500 girls (aged 12-13) take part this year alone.

We have supported the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) since 2017, a not-for-profit organisation that provides measurement and insights into diversity through its work with over 700 organisations and across 42 industry sectors, representing 160,000 people in UK technology roles. This year, we also commissioned Color in Tech to deliver research exploring what works for attracting and retaining ethnically diverse talent within the technology sector. The data was used to create a best practice toolkit for employers to build an inclusive workplace environment.

HMG supports diverse entrepreneurs through the £12m Digital Growth Grant, delivered by Barclays Eagle Labs to support startups across the UK. In addition to a range of accelerator programmes, mentorship and educational materials funded by the grant, Barclays Eagle Labs and specialist partners are running growth programmes targeted specifically at female founders and black founders. Among the grant’s primary objectives is that at least 35% of all entrepreneurs supported by the programme will come from diverse backgrounds.

Additionally, the £30 million AI and Data Science Conversion Course programme was established to address the lack of diversity and supply of talent in the UK AI labour market. It is funding up to 3000 scholarships for students from backgrounds underrepresented in the tech industry. We are working with industry to co-fund these scholarships - for every one scholarship that industry funds, the government will fund an additional three across the programme. The Digital Skills Council is also harnessing industry efforts to support further action on digital upskilling and improve the diversity of the digital workforce.

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