Green light for Commission into diversity and inclusion in digital tech

It’s full steam ahead for a commission launched to ensure that the vast opportunities provided by Hackney’s start-ups and flourishing innovation economy are available to everyone in the borough. 

The blueprint of the project, which will aim to close the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) skills gap across the borough, was approved at the Council's Cabinet meeting on Monday evening (19 July). 

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
Hackney has become a prime location for companies involved in digital technology, with fast-growing employment opportunities. 

As a Council, we want to create a fairer, more inclusive local economy, whereby everyone in Hackney - irrespective of background - has the opportunity to thrive and prosper in a borough that local people feel is theirs to shape.

This Commission aims to understand the intersecting barriers facing residents from diverse backgrounds who are looking to launch their careers in Hackney’s renowned digital tech industry and how we can work with local employers to overcome these challenges.
Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

The Commission will help address the stark underrepresentation of some communities in the digital tech economy:

  • Black African, Caribbean, or Black British backgrounds make up only 2% of UK tech workers
  • Women make up 17% of tech workers in the UK, a figure that has only grown by 1% over the past five years
  • 11% of all UK tech workers have disabilities, and 22% are aged 50 or above 

With this goal in mind, the Commission will consult with residents and gather evidence of their experiences accessing skills and opportunities in the digital technology sector through a series of focus groups, interviews, and questionnaires. 

Next year the Commission will bring different stakeholders together - including employers and educators - for a series of roundtable discussions to reflect on the findings from community consultation and highlight successful programmes and new opportunities to improve diversity. At the conclusion, the Commission will publish its findings and recommendations for targeted interventions to address gaps in current programs to support residents.

As part of Monday evening’s Cabinet meeting a new strategic framework for adult learning was approved with a focus on: 

  • Training with a direct link to employment opportunities
  • Building functional and transferable skills
  • Wellbeing and building a basis for future opportunities

The Adult Learning Service continues to be crucial to the local recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is well placed to address many of the enormous challenges faced by residents including unemployment, mental ill-health, and social isolation.

A key element of the Council’s rebuilding a better Hackney campaign is to support those facing unemployment to develop the skills and training they need to get jobs and take advantage of the economic opportunities in the borough. 

The strategic framework will be developed and discussed with skills partners to co-ordinate a joint approach to adult learning across Hackney that supports adult residents with skills and qualifications for work, as well as learning for wellbeing and life skills.