How did we support women throughout the pandemic?

We are so excited to tell the world about our achievements supporting women throughout the pandemic with our Future Skills Bootcamps, particularly mothers trapped in low-income, low-skilled roles with no access to training opportunities. We have even been nominated to win a Digital Leaders award for this work. Read on to learn more or click here to vote for us to win – it only takes a few seconds!

The problem

By 2030, 3 million employed women in the UK are at risk of having their jobs replaced by automation with millions more facing the need to change jobs. Mothers are often most at risk of automation due to factors around the phenomenon known as the “parenting penalty” particularly due to them being forced into lower-paid lower skill roles after having children. Do you know mothers (or maybe you are one) working in customer services, on cashier desks, in administrative jobs? These roles are at risk of being replaced by chatbots, self-service checkouts, and artificial intelligence programmes and software designed to complete simple, repetitive online tasks.

The answer to this challenge is that these women need to learn new skills to stay relevant. The trouble is though, they struggle to engage in formal learning. Our research shows that a lack of time, headspace and funds are major barriers, as well as a lack of confidence in their abilities. This is particularly true for older mothers who have the lowest confidence and feel like they are too old to learn new things.

Digital Mums were working on a way to best support these mothers – particularly those working in low-income, low-skilled roles that don’t have a Degree, and had been selected by the Department of Education to try and tackle this problem when the pandemic hit. Suddenly it wasn’t that people’s jobs were at risk in 10 years time they were at risk right now with millions being put on furlough or being made redundant and emerging evidence showing that women in particular were being hardest hit. So we had to step up and attempt to do something about it.

Our solution

Over the past 8 years we have had great success with our innovative learning model which is all about learning by doing with others in the same position as you. That’s why the Department for Education chose us to help. So we offered learners our Future Skills Bootcamp, a 10 week course focused on building the most in-demand digital skills with students collaborating on a real project throughout the course.

We were tasked with building the following benefits for learners and the Department for Education specifically wanted us to robustly evaluate our outcomes for learners to see whether they:

  • Improved confidence, motivation and self-esteem
  • Improved career adaptability
  • Increased learner motivation and a reduction in learner anxiety
  • Increased digital competencies and digital confidence

Our findings

Learner engagement

We recruited over 1,300 learners and were amazed that of the women that accepted their place and started the course 70-80% of learners completed the course successfully. This is far higher than the average for online courses generally but particularly for free courses where most students fail to finish (never mind the fact that they were attempting to complete the course during a pandemic that involved home schooling). Learners enjoyed learning with us and were motivated to keep going through our clever course design.

All our students were women and almost 100% were mothers. We were hoping to support older mothers, particularly those that had never learned online before. We were delighted that 44% of our learners were aged over 45. 37% of learners had never learned online before. 32% had not learned for over 5 years with 21% of these not having learned for at least 8 years. Almost 1 in 10 learners had not learned formally since they were at school.

Impact

We had to try and remember our maths modules at University to measure our outcomes. Maths isn’t our strong point so we were supported by an independent team of evaluators to make sure we weren’t making anything up! Their statistical analysis of learners pre- course and post-course using a specific survey we developed demonstrated that we did deliver impact for our learners including:

  • Improved confidence, motivation and self-esteem
  • Improved career adaptability
  • Increased digital competencies

75% of students confirmed feeling more confident about learning in general and 71% felt more confident about learning online.

So it’s “proper true” that we have helped women improve their overall confidence, improve their career adaptability, improve their digital competencies. And we supported them to feel more confident in their ability to learn – and for many offered them their first opportunity to learn online. Overall we made them feel more confident to learn online in the future which we were happiest with as we love to see people learn to love learning!

Vote for us!

In recognition of this achievement we have been nominated to win an award for “Digital Skills or Talent Initiative of the Year” as part of the Digital Leaders 100. This award covers initiatives that encourage digital skills and give individuals the opportunity to develop and learn. This prize is for a product or service, which in the last year has delivered a real impact in terms of digital skills or talent to its intended community. We feel we fit the bill and would LOVE it if you could vote for us to win. It only takes a minute and can be done here.

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About The Author

Naveen
Naveen
Naveen loves entertainment and writing about it. He started his journey in 2014 as a web master and a founding member of Scrollbytes. He also has a degree in computer science and animation, and a certificate in digital marketing from DSIM. He is from India and he enjoys combining his passions for entertainment and tech in his websites.

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