Expert groups to boost UK safety tech skills and capability

Three new cross-sector expert groups have been established to lead the UK safety tech sector’s response to the challenges identified in recent DCMS skills and capabilities research.

The UK Government is partnering with the safety tech sector to launch a collaborative programme of action to grow sector skills and capability, with three expert groups launching in autumn 2021.

The groups will focus on addressing the priority challenge areas identified in the recent DCMS report, Safety tech in the UK: Skills & Capabilities. This report found that, despite a compelling proposition that means that its employment retention rate exceeds that of the tech sector in general, safety tech companies can struggle to recruit the skills they need. It identified the key challenges as the need to raise sector visibility, recruit diverse staff, and to ensure comprehensive knowledge of data privacy requirements in a complex area.

The expert groups will be overseen and coordinated by a steering group, jointly chaired by DCMS and Sharon Pursey OBE, Co Founder of SafeToNet, and CEO of the SafeToNet Foundation.

In addition to tackling the individual challenge areas, the expert groups will also advise on the content of courses that will form part of the Safety Tech Academy, launching in winter 2021. 

How to get involved

We are looking for experts to register their interest in being a part of one or more of these groups, taking part in a delivery programme that will initially span from September 2021 to March 2022. Further details about each of the groups follows.

If you are interested, please enter your details on this form by 7 September 2021.

1. Sector Proposition

Kirsten Brumfitt (Crisp), the chair of the Sector Proposition group, outlines the goals of this group as follows:

“The competition for talent has been ongoing for decades, but here in safety tech it has never felt more real. The tech space is full of FinTech, Biotech and ERP providers fighting for the best and brightest, and we need to pit ourselves against more established businesses offering bigger paychecks and well defined and well trodden career paths. One of our greatest assets is our mission; the social charter and protecting the vulnerable, sometimes from themselves.

“Safety tech offers exciting and rewarding careers across all levels of abilities and many safety tech businesses are technology agnostic. Reaching out to competitive markets for talent in the UK and further afield is daunting, particularly when more established sectors such as FinTech, BioTech and ERP have larger budgets and more established career paths”.

The goals of this group will be to:

  • Raise the profile of safety tech, not just as a job but a career offering the chance to really make a difference to our communities and society as a whole;
  • Develop consistently reinforced messaging across safety tech employers to amplify our cause;
  • Help safety tech employers to access talent through all stages of their career;
  • Work with education providers to educate and inform school children of safety tech as an exciting career choice, and as a byproduct also reinforce the dangers of living on devices.

2. Diversity in Safety Tech

The Diversity group is jointly chaired by Nyasha Chavunduka and Sarah Castro MBE of SafeToNet. They say:

“The Diversity in Safety Tech expert group aims to deliver guidance for the safety tech industry on how to actively recruit diverse teams, which are essential in navigating the challenges involved with building solutions to protect and influence a range of people across demographics. We want to benchmark current performance and support the development of safety tech companies wanting to recruit a more diverse workforce. ”

Nyasha and Sarah are particularly interested in talking to:

  • Individuals and companies involved in diversity initiatives operating across the tech industry
  • Recruitment agencies currently or prospectively supporting enterprises within the safety tech industry
  • Academics and Researchers engaged in projects associated with workplace diversity across the tech sector, in particular identifying quantifiable outcomes for the purpose of monitoring diversity 
  • Individuals overseeing hiring within safety tech companies interested in supporting the development of inclusive ways of working, hiring practices to increase diversity in companies/ teams and the maintenance of effective and scalable culture.

The Diversity in Safety Tech group would like to produce:

  • A diversity action plan setting out the steps that the industry can take to benchmark current performance and share good practice
  • Practical guidance and toolkits that will assist businesses within the safety tech industry to recruit and retain a diverse workforce

3. Data integrity

Chaired by Kim Kingan of Cyan, this group will focus on the challenges around data privacy and security, and identifying ways in which to upskill those in the industry. 

Kim says, “This is a complex area, and this group will seek to come up with tools and resources that will help demystify the topic”. 

The group will:

  • Provide data literacy training 
  • Provide guidance on data privacy and security, working in collaboration with the ICO
  • Look at unpicking bias in algorithms (working with group 2)

To get involved with any of the above groups, please enter your details on this form by 7 September 2021.

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