IT sheds 'geek' image in search of youth appeal

Secondary school pupils are being encouraged by a new programme to consider a career in the IT industry

Young people are going to be shown that IT can provide a fulfilling, rewarding and exciting career, thanks to a new government-backed initiative. E-skills UK has today launched a programme to interest more young people in pursuing careers in IT. 'Go for IT Schools' Workshops' have been developed by e-skills UK and the careers service with the intention of changing the way secondary school pupils view the IT sector. E-skills UK hopes it can shake the unsexy stereotype of 'geeks in glasses' which has often made people steer clear of all things IT-related. A number of companies including Dell have already run workshops, encouraging pre-GCSE students to come into the high-tech workplace and experience it for themselves on day-placements. The workshops will be targeted at boys and, perhaps more importantly, girls -- recognising the imbalance between the two which currently exists in IT. Anne Cantelo, project director, e-skills UK, said: "Research has shown that many people, particularly women, are put off a career in IT primarily because of its poor image. The notion that IT is geeky and untrendy tends to be formed around the age of 13 and is very difficult to change later in life." Many companies realise that creating a less male-dominated industry will be a major step towards shedding some of the more negative stereotypes besieging the sector. Pat Nathan, vice president, diversity, at Dell EMEA, said in a statement: "Bringing girls into the workplace gives them a chance to be treated like employees for a day and see what it is like to be part of an IT organisation. "In the long term, we're hoping they will consider a career in technology."

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