I started working at Engine Shed in mid-April 2017, with a brief to ‘find ways that Engine Shed can support a diverse workforce for the future.’ Coming from a background of community and education project management, I entered the Engine Shed ‘ecosystem’ (a word I am now starting to understand as distinct from biology) with totally fresh eyes. Economic Development was something I studied at University, not something I had yet seen in action.
Over the past three months I have been witnessing this, through seeing the creation of new jobs in the region. Jobs which are well paid, creative, offer opportunities for progression, and are solving real problems. Tariq Mohammad of Stapleton Road’s ‘Invatech health,’ is just one of many company founders offering these opportunities and I was lucky to get some of his time and discuss what he looks for in an employee.
I was excited to hear that Tariq looks for people with aptitude and a willingness to learn; people with passion. In prioritising these characteristics, he has employed people of all skills, who then progress to achieve their own potential whilst contributing greatly to the business. My suspicion that jobs in tech required knowledge of ‘Full stack’ coding, or a PHD in Maths, was wrong. And through meeting other founders, I realised Tariq is not alone in this thinking.
As well as learning that career opportunities are available to many skill sets, I have come to understand that there is a drive for business leaders to support diversity and inclusion in their workforce, and not as a box ticking exercise. Teams that welcome and include more women and people of racial and ethnic diversity, are better for business. Business’ in the West of England wanta diverse workforce, who come from a variety of educational paths.
So how do we, as a region, support young people – especially those who are currently underrepresented in the growing sectors – to feel inspired and excited about these opportunities? How do we encourage their passion to develop, and support them to feel that their future career could start on their doorstep?
At Engine Shed, we’re still trying to figure out the best way we can support young people, and give them the help they need to start thinking about careers they may not have thought possible. And to do this, we are looking for project partners. Currently we are asking people from across the region to put forward their potential solutions to support young people on their journey into careers in the tech, digital, entrepreneurial and low carbon sectors.
We don’t need fully formed solutions – we’re looking for ideas that people believe in, which we can then support with time and funding to develop. We are looking for brave ideas, because we want our region to be a place where young people feel they can start a fulfilling working life.
What can you do? Help us find those ideas. If you have a project idea, you can find the selection criteria and simple application questions here, and apply by 18th September 2017. Or, if you know someone who talks solutions of this nature, let them know about Engine Shed’s project, and encourage them to apply.