08 Oct 2021

Ethically diverse students can help plug the digital skills gap as Nationwide and Microsoft offers a tech masterclass

Ethnically diverse students are being encouraged to learn about tech as Nationwide and Microsoft work together to empower a new generation and help plug the digital skills gap.

The two organisations are running Financial Freedom 2021 for ethnically diverse students to give them the opportunity to gain critical digital and financial skills. The event will take place on Wednesday, 20 October,  and young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds will hear from prominent business leaders sharing their views and experiences.

According to Microsoft research, more than two-thirds (69%) of UK business leaders believe their organisation is currently facing a digital skills gap. Even though artificial intelligence and app development have come a long way over the years, UK companies still need young people with a variety of digital capabilities to create the digital tools of the future.

Students are key to bridging this digital skills gap. The event will teach more than 100 young people how to build an app with no previous experience or knowledge of coding, and give them invaluableg hands-on developer experience. It will also provide students with the vital skills to support their financial wellbeing such as saving for a pension, and a mortgage, as well as what you need to do to obtain financial freedom. It aims to help black heritage graduates and students from UK universities find financial freedom and resilience in the workplace.

Financial Freedom 2021 is being held during Black History Month, and will promote this year’s theme; “Proud to Be”, all about empowering young people to take control of their futures – ranging from careers and skills to finances.

The session will include a panel discussion featuring respected business leaders, including Simone Steel, Nationwide Chief Data Officer, Louis Wilson, Financial Planning Manager, Nationwide Building Society, Geraldine Maringo, Chief Product Owner, Nationwide Building Society, Bunmi Durowoju, 100 Most Influential Leaders in Tech, Microsoft, Zephaniah Chukwudum, Microsoft UK Embrace Lead, Microsoft, giving their view on how to reach financial freedom.

During the event, students will be supported by Microsoft coaches to build a no-code app for Nationwide. Students with the best app ideas will also receive one-to-one mentoring sessions with panellists and lab moderators, to support them in their career planning and development, while also helping them to build their CVs.

Jane Hanson, Chief People Officer at Nationwide, said “We are pleased to work with Microsoft on such an important event. In a fast paced, changing world, digital and financial skills are so important and we are excited to offer ethnically diverse students the opportunity to learn and develop in this area. By showcasing some of the possibilities, and encouraging the students to develop their digital skills, we hope to inspire the next generation today to see themselves as the tech leaders of tomorrow.”

Zephaniah Chukwudum, who leads Microsoft’s EMBRACE Employee Resource Group in the UK, said: “Digital skills are incredibly important for any young person starting out in their career, and we want  to encourage more people from the BAME community to get into technology. Not only does the technology sector offer rich and rewarding careers for everyone, but Microsoft also understands that technology products and services need to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. That is only possible if the people designing, marketing and selling those products and services are also from a diverse range of backgrounds.”

To find out more about Financial Freedom 2021 and sign up for the event, click here.