Doris and The Northern Digital Jobs Strategy Report
January 31, 2018
A review of the Northern Digital Strategy Jobs Report Themes and how Doris aids the Digital Skills Gap by Donny James
1. Create a Northern Digital Skills Network to connect, coordinate and drive digital skills activity in the North, in line with the Digital Skills Partnership agenda (19%).
• Doris provides opportunities to young people, graduates and otherwise, to enter into the IT/Digital workforce. Each Doriser is supported in their learning to improve themselves for their own role (or a future aspiration) and upon completion is asked to report on the efficacy of the training they used. This feedback is a crucial part of the Doris culture as it pushes continual improvement so that the next generation of trainees will receive the best material available.
• A platform has been created for integration with other tech colleagues via their annual conference and regular meetups for people from varying backgrounds and skillsets to collaborate. It is also encouraged for employees to engage in extracurricular networking activities, with our PR guru always looking out for the next Hackathon or Digital Education event.
2. Create a Northern Digital Jobs Portal to drive employers with opportunities, and learners with availability, into one place (13%).
• Mentor. This is the title provided to the person that supports you throughout your Doris life, they provide you with training, resources, advice and possibly most importantly: the opportunities available to you within IT. Acting as the intermediary between yourself and a prospective assignment manager, they gather all of the available information about roles they’ve uncovered from clients and match you where your skills are most appropriate.
3. Improve careers advice so that, no matter what age, you know there are opportunities in digital (12%)
• Curiosity is a driver for almost all of us. We want to learn and to thrive in what we do. Sometimes, however, we have a very vague understanding of what we want to do: this is where we rely on the support and knowledge of others. Asking for feedback in our roles helps us to understand our strengths and regular meetings with mentors gives us context. Here this informed perspective of experienced IT professionals suggests a path for you to follow and encourages peer-advice to inform and bolster.
• Doris works with groups such as Liverpool Girl Geeks and #TeachToo to give back to the younger community – the workforce of the future. Together we provide insight and direction to the local youth to inspire and educate on the wonderful digital world that they can be part of.
4. Make digital mainstream in schools so that the ‘digital skills crisis’ fixes itself long-term (12%).
• Although I now work in IT, my digital schooling was far from favourable. Dubbed ICT – Information and Communications Technology – it seemed like the main focus of the class was to bore me into submission, with the main activities seeming to be WordArt and screen printing everything you do. Curriculums change and since then there have been initiatives such as the micro:bit that have been very successful – 88% of students saying it helped them to see that coding wasn’t as bad as they thought.
• As mentioned above, Doris works with companies such as Liverpool Girl Geeks who in turn have an audience that reaches 5 year olds. This is a grassroots movement to try to embed the required interest into today’s youth so that the future will be truly diversified and properly represented.
5. Encourage those from underrepresented groups into the digital sector (6%).
• Founded by experienced IT professionals, Doris was created to support traditionally “less qualified” people enter the digital sector. Focusing on skills and personality rather than pure words on paper, Doris’ recruitment ethics have foundations in a “loveliness” ideal: if you are hardworking and kind then there’s a digital role out there for you. Background and stereotypes are not relied upon. This provides a more level playing field for applicants to the company.
• When it comes to assignments, the impetus is to choose existing personnel, an example of this is where a role was presenting itself within the head office staff for an additional client manager. This was occupied by a motivated Doriser that had just finished their previous assignment – all additional training and support was provided by experienced members of the office team.
6. Use the Apprenticeship Levy as a catalyst for changing our attitudes to employability, as well as ensuring that other types of training still count (6%).
• Apprentices within the company are not regarded as a separate entity, all Dorisers are equal. This improves team spirit and when on assignment there is no difference to the work that an apprentice may do to the work that a graduate may do. The levy received is utilised for training across the board for the development of the workforce.
• Doris calls upon its strong relationships with employers to enable people access roles that they would like to do, but may have not seen themselves as being able to attain, without far more formal training. This early entry into a highly competitive sector gives apprentices the experience far sooner than usually possible, making them far more employable in the near future.
7. Run a Northern digital jobs awareness campaign to drive people to seek out training and jobs opportunities in the North (5%).
• Dorisers are always on the lookout for any room to support an organisation, diligently assessing the needs of the team or project they are working in. Mentors build upon this scouting by engaging the organisation to secure the correct places for Dorisers. At both ends – organisational and personal – experienced Doris IT staff push the normalness of a digital role, the typecast “geek” requirement is quashed.
• We have a vast catalogue of learning resources that is actively maintained by the Doris community, providing information and training on a variety of subjects, from basic Excel to machine code. Accessible to all employees, there’s supporting guides for the roles that we do and also additional material to help develop for the role you want.
8. Prioritise skilling up our local workforce to deal with the potential effects of Brexit (5%).
• Doris’ whole ethos is based upon local talent. Scouting colleges and universities to help advance people’s careers in the direction that they wish for. Providing training, advice and support – not to mention the access to long established networks in the IT industry.
• From my experiences in the Manchester IT industry, I have seen a surprising amount of youth utilised in the sector, between Doris and the various graduate schemes in place, local people seem to be the preferred option when hiring for a new role. Building longevity rather than short-term filling a gap, driving down the contractor proportions.
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