ICT Trends Article August 2014: The Gender Quotient

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Finding ways to encourage girls and women to participate in one of the fastest growing industries, both here in NZ and abroad is challenging governments and ICT industries to create initiatives and programmes that will help address the gender imbalance.

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  • 1. ICT Trends The Gender QuotientFinding ways to encourage girls and women to participate in one of the fastest growing industries,both here in NZ and abroad is challenging governments and ICT industries to create initiatives andprogrammes that will help address the gender imbalance.ICT Industry Diversity (or a lack thereof)A headline in an IDG Connect article, published last month, reads Women engineers are still ararity. Tech companies in the USA have recently released workforce information indicating that theaverage male to female ratio at the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter andPinterest is approximately 2:1. However, a further breakdown of actual tech roles within eachcompany discloses much lower female participation rates of somewhere between 10 percent(Twitter) and 20 percent (Pinterest).Government and the ICT industry in NZ have recently released plans to help address the issue ofgender imbalance in STEM-related industries.Industry InitiativeThe NZ Technology Industry Association is supporting the "Shadow IT" programme, a ManukauInstitute of Technology (MIT) initiative to attract more school leavers into the sector. Theprogramme has been designed to inspire young female students by presenting career avenues in theIT field. High school female students are provided with an opportunity to literally shadow ITprofessionals to get a better understanding of the workplace and career choices available to them.In building community partnerships between schools and businesses the programme aims toencourage more females to consider the IT field as a career choice.Government InitiativeA Nation of Curious Minds He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara is a national strategic plan for science insociety. The plan recognises the importance of scientific knowledge and innovation in creating anddefining New Zealands future, economically, socially and environmentally. One of its main goals isto encourage more students to become science and technology competent learners, and to choosescience, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related career pathways.MYOB NZ Director and Product Development Manager, Trevor Leybourne, has welcomed theinitiative as a great step towards tackling the ICT skills shortage in NZ. The plan to review the role ofDigital Technologies in the school curriculum, as well as the steps to encourage more girls intoscience and technology careers, will (potentially) help to address the ongoing skills shortage in NZsICT industry.ICT Tertiary EnrolmentsFigures 1 and 2 illustrate the current participation rates, based on gender, in ICT tertiary diploma anddegree programmes. The low ratio of female to male in equivalent full time study (EFTS) for Levels 5to 7 ICT programmes highlights the gender imbalance issue.Fig 1 IT/ICT Diploma EFTS Enrolments Male/Female Ratio, 20131

2. Fig 2 IT/ICT Degree EFTS Enrolments Male/Female Ratio, 2013Youth UnemploymentThe NEET rate for youth (15 to 24 years) for all regions in the year to the December 2013 quarterwas 11.9 percent. An IITP TechBlog Article announcement that the 2020 Trust has received a $1.4million lottery grant boost to provide basic computer skills to unemployed Kiwis is welcome news.Any opportunity to address this vexing issue of youth unemployment, a worldwide problem, is to beapplauded.Job AdvertsThe Seek ICT Job advert increase of 3.5 percent on the July statistic (Fig.3) supports the currentpositive employment outlook posted in the DoL Quarterly Labour Market Scorecard for August 2014.The August figure of 2643 is 7 percent up on the same period in 2013 when ICT job ads were startingtheir typical downward trend.Fig.3 Seek ICT Job Adverts Monthly Trends 2010 2014 (August)The Trademe IT job adverts increased 2 percent on last months figure of 1,254 (Fig.4), with asignificant increase on August 2013 of 19 percent.2 3. Fig.4 Seek ICT & Trademe IT Job Advert Trends to July 2014Figure 5 illustrates a further increase in Seek ICT job adverts for this month with Auckland once againleading the growth for the three main regions, up 5.5 percent. The 1602 adverts for Aucklandrepresent an increase of 9.6 percent on August 2013.Fig.5 Seek ICT Job Advert Trends - Monthly Change for August 2014Figure 6 provides a detailed record of the Seek ICT job advert trends by region for the year to August2014. Overall, the total number of jobs has increased by 62 per cent since the beginning of the year.3 4. Fig.6 Seek ICT Job Advert Monthly Trends to August 2014ConclusionGovernment and industry initiatives to encourage female participation in STEMrelated careers and,in particular ICT, are to be commended. The results of past efforts to increase female tertiaryenrolments into ICT-related programmes appears to have made little difference so far, with thefemale-to-male ratio intractably stuck at 20:80.ICT industry and businesses leaders are very concerned about the continuing skill shortages and arenow making a concerted effort to work with schools and other government and professionalagencies to help address the problem. Lets hope that the combined efforts bear fruit. Watch thisspace!News Bytes: A to ZAfrica - AllAfrica Kenya: Microsoft's Myskills4afrika Initiative Seeks to Spur Africa's IT SkillsDevelopmentThe programme aims to train 200,000 Africans by 2016, with 100,000 coming from the existingworkforce, largely made up of Microsoft's partner community, while the remaining 100,000 willconsist of recent graduates.Africa BizTechAfrica: Lagos: Oracle partnership addresses skills shortageThe Lagos State government has partnered with technology giant Oracle Corporation to address thedearth of the requisite ICT skills thus assuring fast employment for its youth.Australia ZDNet: Australian IT industry faces impending skills shortage: GreythornA new survey by IT recruitment firm, Greythorn, of almost 3,000 IT professionals suggests that theAustralian information technology sector is heading towards a "huge" skills shortage within the nextfive years.NZ Technology Industry Association: Shadow IT: Tech leaders mentoring young women for a dayShadow IT has been designed as an opportunity for high school female students to literally shadowIT professionals to get a better understanding of the workplace and career choices available to them.4 5. NZ Voxy.co.nz: MYOB welcomes initiative to boost ICT in schoolsReviewing role of Digital Technologies in school curriculum is a great step towards tackling ICT skillsshortage in NZUK BusinessTechnology: Britain faces increasing digital skills shortage, says taskforce reportThe Digital Skills for Tomorrows World report said that according to estimates around 745,000additional workers with digital skills will be needed to meet the rising demands between 2013 and2017, yet in March 2014 there were still 975,000 young people in the UK not in education,employment or training.UK Computerworld: UK must better harness home grown talent to tackle digital skills crisis, saysTaskforceA Taskforce report says the need for digital skills is only going to grow, with the Science Councilestimating that the ICT workforce alone will grow by 39 percent by 2030.UK Telegraph: Britain faces 'growing shortage' of digital skillsThe report warns that teachers will need "considerable help" to prepare and retrain with theintroduction of the new computing curriculum set to be introduced into schools in September 2014.USA Computerworld: For half, STEM degrees lead to other jobsThe Census Bureau reports that only 26% of people with any type of four-year STEM degree areworking in a STEM field. For those with a degree specifically in computer science, math or statistics,the figure is 49%, nearly the same for engineering degrees.5