Leidos supporting the levelling up agenda
In the first quarter of this year, the number of unfilled vacancies in the UK’s science and technology industry hit 131,000―an increase of 80 percent compared to the three months preceding the pandemic.
That's why Leidos is working with technology training academy Futureproof to offer wider access to the skills needed to bridge this gap.
“Levelling up the UK economy post-pandemic is not just about getting people back into employment," explains Leidos Social Value Manager Silka Patel. “It's about getting more people into highly-skilled industries like ours, where technology companies are crying out for more diverse talent."
On the 4th May, Leidos and Futureproof co-sponsored an event at techUK's London offices, at which Patel joined the chair of Leidos' Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Heritage (REACH) employee resource group, Yvonne Gordon, and chief engineer Daniel Singh to offer 100 students and associates their insights on how to thrive in the tech industry.
“Events like this are crucial in enabling our associates to build up a network that can sustain them throughout their career," explains Futureproof Academy Director Sophie Hebdidge. “That might be with peers who can support them navigating the industry in the early stages, or connections to people who might hire them later in their career."
In addition to having already hired 33 Futureproof associates as part of the academy's two-year placement program, Leidos is committed to offering mentorship to Futureproof associates―whether they undertake their placement at Leidos or not.
“We want to provide people with access to role models that they may not have otherwise had access to," Patel explains. “It's not about making sure they come to work for Leidos, but making sure that we can nurture that talent and keep it in the industry, because a few years down the line they might come to work for us, or they might end up working for one of our partners."
Of those associates who do come to work for Leidos, all have been ready to hit the ground running Patel says, thanks to Futureproof's 13-week training program, which provides them with a strong understanding of all the skills needed to thrive in the technology industry.
But the partnership with Futureproof is about more than just making it easier to recruit skilled technology talent. Equally crucial is how the academy is working to diversify this talent pool by offering its training for free to the top two percent of applicants, 38 percent of whom are female, while 57 percent are from ethnic minorities and 85 percent from lower-income backgrounds.
“Diversity isn't just about race, ethnicity, and gender, we're looking to address hidden elements as well―such as neurodiversity," explains Gordon.
, Chair of Leidos' REACH employee resource group
One thing we've recognised is that the way remote working has increased following the pandemic has the potential to open opportunities to very talented individuals who might have been pushed aside by the industry.
At Leidos, this drive to improve diversity across all these different dimensions has been driven internally, not just in response to government requirements, thanks to employee resource groups like REACH and the Women's Network, which empower underrepresented groups to push for wider recruitment of others like themselves.
“I believe that if the technology of the future is being made by a group of people who are not representative of the population, then we are going to make mistakes," Patel says. “If you don't have new, diverse people coming into your organisation then you will not be able to come up with the innovative solutions that are needed."