The Brum Muse

Strategy and framework for closing the digital skills gap
The Brum Muse

Vision

The Brum Muse started as a forum that met bi-monthly to suggest working practices, ideas, concepts and tangible objectives with a number of key people from within the tech and educational professional network.

It was created in order to identify the issues within the digital divide and implement a pro-active system and list of actions that would lead to the realistic bridging of the digital skills gap in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Mission

“To collaborate with key tech organisations, local government authorities, charities, academic, education, and training institutions, learning and apprenticeship hubs within the city and the West Midlands to work together to implement key strategies to solve the digital skills gap.”

Key Objectives

1. Schools

The importance of working with young people is absolutely fundamental to the bridging of the digital skills gap. We should be working with young people at an early age, not just at GCSE when it is too late and their minds are made up as to the direction they feel they should take. We do not forget the part that parents and teachers play in influencing their children and students and we want to help educate and make them understand the importance digital skills and tech plays in our lives now and will play in the future.

The Goals:

  • Work with young people of all ages to inspire, educate and understand the routes and careers available in tech and digital.
  • Bringing young professional tech people into schools, to inspire pupils, to tell them their stories and how they got there.
  • Find employers to showcase what they do - school trips or product demos - Virtual Work Experience - STEM
  • University Students and Lecturers doing a Computer Science (or similar digital) course to also go into schools/further education colleges and training institutions.
  • STEM to support this through their Computing programme.

2. Digital Poverty

One thing the pandemic has demonstrated is the digital divide within certain pockets within our city and region. Families and young people are having to choose food over connectivity and in some cases all having to share one device between many siblings, which is causing many children fall behind in their education. We are supposedly living in a digital and modern era and this is simply not good enough. Digital inclusion should be for all and we want to help ensure that people have access to connectivity and devices.

The Goals:

  • Identify a key area of the city to work with to promote and teach Digital Skills - This is with a focus on a community supporting ALL people within this community - not just young people.
  • Look at widening participation backgrounds of young people in schools
  • Engagement with schools considered to have a high number of students from widening participation backgrounds for which you use POLAR and MID data to identify schools to target with the support/initiatives.
  • We will use data where schools have received Pupil Premium funding, as another measure to understand where students have been eligible for free school meals as an indicator to understand depravity within local authority areas of the city.

3. Diversity and Inclusion

The topic of diversity and inclusion has come to the forefront over the last 12 months following the unlawful killing of George Floyd back in May 2020. This is a pivotal time in our history; to educate; to make a change in our organisations and to no longer stand on the sidelines. It should not matter who we are, what are background, where we come from or what our gender, but we should now stand together and be allies, in order to make a positive change. Birmingham and the West Midlands is one of the most diverse populations in the UK but this is not represented in the tech industry.

People from Diverse Backgrounds
There is a lack of BAME representation within the Tech community that has led us to want to support and promote tech heavily within Birmingham and the West Midlands. Guestimate figures from different sources include 1-2% (British Computer Society), 4% (Colour in Tech) 14% (TechNation). Where can we find clearer numbers?
Women In Tech
Women currently working in the tech industry across the UK is 17% - We need to establish a clear idea of this within Birmingham and the West Midlands: Tech Nation - Naomi Nash.
BAME women role models at senior levels whom have or would like to speak within the region and may have their business here: Oyinkansola Adebayo, NIYO Enterprise.
Job Opportunities For People With Disabilities
Further stats on improving access to work and the correct work environments to accommodate people with disabilities.
Understanding case studies of businesses that have already gone over and beyond that are not just corporates that must fulfill such standards.

Video diaries with people from diverse backgrounds in the tech industry - we want to hear from you!

4. An Annual Digital Skills Regional Conference

The goal is to create an annual digital skills conference to connect all of the dots from the tech eco-system. Young people cannot be inspired if they have nothing to be inspired by and this annual regional digital skills conference will bring together schools, digital skills providers, tech companies, role models and whoever wants to play a part in inspiring, educating and more importantly being a vehicle for change. This is what we believe will be fundamental if we are to bridge the digital skills gap, be more inclusive and ensuring that digital access can be achieved for all.

5. CIC and Online Community Platform

As of August 2021, The Brum Muse is now a community interest company. Now the hard work begins as we set out to empower the next-gen of tech talent who will be tasked with building an online portal that will be thebrummuse.io.

If you are interested in hearing more or being part of the journey, then please get in touch

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