Social mobility in tech

Young people using technology

Following the publication of our 'Diversity in IT 2017: shaping our future together' report BCS have taken a deeper look into the ways a career in IT and Computing can support opportunities and social change. Our new report 'Moving on Up: a BCS analysis of social mobility in tech' outlines the need for digital professionals in the UK so that it can grow and thrive.

The IT profession makes decisions on behalf of us all and so it is vital that the workforce is representative of society. As well as being inclusive of age, gender, abilities and ethnicities it needs to be inclusive of people from all socio-economic backgrounds.

We need to help educators, parents and those involved in the sector to understand IT is a key driver of social mobility, and to direct their resources accordingly. By doing this, we can give young people who need it most, a chance to move on and up.

Our recommendations:

  • Research and monitoring is needed to understand both barriers and solutions for increasing the benefit from IT as a tool in social mobility.
  • Teachers, careers advisers and parents need to be provided with the full breadth of information about digital professional careers; with a particular emphasis on the human-centric aspects, entrepreneurial opportunities, and the array of exciting industries where digital professionals operate.
  • IT teaching resources need to be accessible, designed and prioritised for where they are most needed.
  • Anyone building these resources should design them accordingly and review existing materials in the same way.
  • Every IT education programme in schools and communities on a national or regional basis should incorporate policy objectives around social mobility.
  • Regional and local social mobility plans need to highlight digital opportunities specifically, and actively seek partnerships and programmes that can bring people together to encourage and support growth in digital education and skills.
  • School leadership teams should be given specific support and encouragement around the adoption of IT, and in turn should encourage their teachers to participate in national networks and programmes.
Lee Rowley"Social mobility is a vitally important part of a dynamic and successful society and as we start to debate what the UK will look like after Brexit, it is crucial that we attract the brightest and the best into sectors such as IT in the East Midlands. As someone who, before I became an MP, worked in IT for a decade, I know the power that careers such as these have for those who come from working-class backgrounds like my own in Chesterfield. I welcome this report as an opportunity to debate how we further improve social mobility in the East Midlands through a thriving and successful IT sector."

Lee Rowley
MP for North East Derbyshire
John Gibbs"Throughout my career I have championed the power of a diverse team, the importance of being - and feeling - included and ensuring that opportunities exist equally for everyone, irrespective of background. We live in a world where young people face inequality of opportunity and if we are going to maximise the opportunities that are available to everyone, then – as this report suggests - we must ensure that young people understand the range of exciting digital careers that are available. This means opening their eyes to the importance of digital skills and showing them the doors that are opened by a career in the rapidly growing digital industry."

John Gibbs
Group Chief Information Officer, Rolls-Royce
Rebecca George"We believe that the IT profession can help to tackle the divisions in British society. Our research shows that three-quarters of people in our profession today are better off when compared to their parents, and for some job roles, it's as high as 80%. These are absolutely life-changing figures and are an example of the amazing career opportunities that our sector is already creating here and now, in 2018. If you're a young person living, for example, in a deprived part of one of the UK’s Opportunity Areas, whose parents didn't have the chance to go university, you no longer have to accept the fact that your opportunities will be restricted as in your parents’ generation. Our research proves conclusively what many of us have felt for some time, that the IT profession can provide the life-chances for all our young people, irrespective of their background, or that of their parents. This is great news as talented young people are spread throughout the country, and not just confined to the job 'hot-spots' of London and the south-east."

Rebecca George, Fellow of BCS (FBCS) OBE
Public Sector Lead, Deloitte

All the above recommendations apply nationwide and should have a particular focus in the Government's Opportunity Areas.