A group of women at the TechUP programme residential weekend at Edge Hill University taking part in one of the industry-led talks
Participants of the TechUP programme taking part in an industry-led seminar at Edge Hill University

This weekend (Saturday 21 to Sunday 22 September), Edge Hill University was home to more than 80 women who are retraining in the digital sector.

As part of the TechUP programme, the women – who are either currently in technology-related roles or aspire to be – were welcomed to the Ormskirk campus by Pro Vice-Chancellor Lynda Brady for a weekend full of networking and industry-led inputs.

She said: “TechUP is about celebrating the contribution of women to the technology industry; and with just 17 per cent of the technology sector workforce being female, this represents a vital opportunity to contribute to greater gender equality.

“The programme is key to giving women the opportunities to develop themselves both professionally and personally, which is why I’m pleased that, with our long history of championing women, we’ve been able to work with other universities and industry partners to support them in their studies and future careers.”

The Institute of Coding (IoC) has awarded more than £517,000 to launch the new TechUP programme to retrain women in technology. It is part of a wider initiative, which will see £4.8m invested to tackle the digital skills shortfall across a wide range of areas.

Led by Durham University, working with Edge Hill, Nottingham and York universities, the weekend is the second in four, giving participants the chance to meet with companies from the industry and other learners.

George Mackay-Shore, a developer from BJSS, giving a talk at Edge Hill University as part of the TechUP programme
George MacKay-Shore giving an industry-led talk at the TechUP programme on Saturday

George Mackay-Shore, a developer at BJSS, who has worked in the industry for more than 10 years, delivered one of the talks on the Saturday.

He said: “Weekends like this are important for online-only programmes so that the cohort can come together and have face-to-face access to programme managers, mentors and industry partners.

“For me, personally, it’s an opportunity to be part of an amazing initiative and help women who now have the chance to rekindle their interest in the sector.”

The six-month online programme covers a number of modules that students can fit in around other commitments, taking the learning outside of a lecture theatre with support from a mentor.

During the weekend, as well as industry-led talks, the programme included motivational speakers and breakout sessions where learners had the opportunity to discuss data and ethical hacking.

One of the participants, Sarah, 29, from Leicester, said:

“The weekend gives you the chance to experience things that you wouldn’t usually do on an online course; I took part in the ethical hacking session and loved it, and also met so many great women I can’t wait to see them all again.

TechUP is an amazing opportunity for me that I can fit in and around being a mum, my marriage, full-time job and my love for playing sports, when usually I find it tricky to find the time to do anything else.

“Once I’ve completed the course, I want to pay it forward by helping upskill others in my local area.” 

For more information about the programme, email ioc.techup@durham.ac.uk, call 0191 334 2554 or visit the TechUP website. You can also sign up to the mailing list to be notified when applications are open.