Leeds #techmums pictured with #techmums founder Dr Sue Black

Free digital skills courses for Leeds mums return in 2020

Leeds popular #techmums clubs are welcoming new recruits for the second round of free courses starting in January 2020.

Led by Leeds Libraries and Leeds Employment and Skills, the clubs are back by popular demand, after recently winning a Women in IT Excellence award for most diverse and inclusive digital initiative. The #techmums clubs are a key part of the Leeds City Council 100% Digital Leeds programme.

For ten weeks, women on the free course explore social media, web and app design, coding, online safety and creative design. #techmums is for women who are currently outside employment, due to childcare or career breaks, who want to learn new digital skills for day-to-day life or go on to retrain and access further education.

Forty-one #techmums graduated from the last course in 2019, with 12 moving straight on to another Leeds Employment and Skills course. Three mums secured places on the sought-after TechUP programme, which helps people from underrepresented communities retrain and start new careers in technology.

Through the Leeds Libraries tablet lending scheme, women can also borrow iPads during the course to continue learning at home.

The #techmums clubs were originally created in London by Dr Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University. Sue was inspired by her own experience of retraining and establishing a successful academic career in technology, after starting out as a single mum with few qualifications, living in a domestic violence refuge.

Gifty Assana joined #techmums in 2019: “After having children, I felt my knowledge of technology was very outdated and I needed to do something but I wasn’t quite sure what…The #techmums experience was fantastic. The course covered topics introduction to coding, app design, online safety and budgeting online. Last but not least, it created an atmosphere to form lovely relationships with other women…I am currently learning things I didn’t imagine myself doing before #techmums.”

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said: “We are extremely proud of the award-winning #techmums clubs and look forward to celebrating the achievements of this year’s graduates. This collaboration by Leeds Libraries and Leeds Employment and Skills offers inspiring learning experiences for women across the city, as well as the chance to consider a career in technology, which is a growing industry in Leeds.”

The #techmums clubs start during the second week of January, with a drop-in welcome event at the following locations:

  • Armley Community Hub and Library (Tuesdays, 1pm – 3pm)
  • St Patrick’s Studios, East Street Arts (Thursdays, 9.30am – 11.30am)
  • Dewsbury Road Community Hub and Library (Fridays, 1pm – 3pm)

100% Digital Leeds is city wide campaign to remove barriers to digital inclusion. Across Leeds, thousands of adults still lack the basic skills they need to participate in today’s increasingly digital world. People who are offline miss out on all the benefits the internet has to offer, for example help to find work, saving money or keeping in touch with friends and family. The 100% Digital Leeds initiative, led by Leeds Libraries, is working with partners across the city to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn these skills and access the equipment they need: www.digitalinclusionleeds.com

The Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy 2018 – 2023 sets out 12 Big Ideas to create the underlying conditions for inclusive growth, including ‘Leeds as a Digital City’. Fundamental to this aim is increasing digital inclusion, so that all citizens can access services, education and training. Encouraging more women to work in tech is highlighted in the strategy. Visit www.leedsgrowthstrategy.co.uk

The Women in IT Excellence Awards have been celebrating and promoting female talent in the industry for three years. Over 500 women have already been recognised. These awards seek to redress the gender imbalance within the IT industry, where just 20% of UK employees are female. Visit www.events.computing.co.uk

For more information and to book your place, visit www.leedsadultlearning.co.uk, e-mail leedsadultlearning@leeds.gov.uk or telephone 0113 378 7002.