As the number of women working within the technology industry in the UK continues to decline, one Midlands IT professional is bucking the trend, after becoming only the third female in the West Midlands to train for Apple Accredited Engineer status.
June Briscoe-Reynolds, of Leamington-based The Emerald Group, may have left school with very few qualifications 15 years ago, but today she is just one exam away from a fully competent Apple Certified Technician, working with Emerald to service, maintain, and repair Apple products used by its customers.
As only the third female in the West Midlands to train for such a status, June joins a unique group, with just 27% of UK digital workers who are female, according to the latest report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Her accolade comes at a time when the UK has 800,000 unemployed women.
June commented: “From an early age I had a real interest and aptitude for all things technical, but when it came to exploring career options I felt intimidated by the prospect of entering into such a male dominated industry and as a result I did not pursue IT at school and beyond. Meeting the team at Emerald changed all preconceptions I had.”
Instead June opted for a career in the retail sector, working her way up from a store assistant at a popular high street store, before earning a management role. After leaving to have a child, a chance encounter with Sarah Windrum, Managing Director of Emerald, led June down her chosen career path, working in the technology sector.
After approaching Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub to enquire about the support available to small businesses to develop skills, Emerald was able to secure funding from the Skills For Growth programme to enable June to study for her Apple Accreditation.
The Emerald Group is a business that has long championed the role of women in technology. With a female Managing Director and a strong apprenticeship scheme, Emerald looks to fill the gender gap in technology where it can, through finding and nurturing talent.
Sarah Windrum commented on June’s achievement: “Technology companies are struggling to recruit and the industry still suffers from a male-dominated image preventing women from thinking it is a career for them. People like June prove the talent is there but many IT businesses focus their recruitment on those who have technical skills already in place. As I transferred to technology from publishing myself, I am keen to ensure Emerald looks for anyone with the right attitude. Digital skills can be taught: so if the passion and enthusiasm for technology is there, the rest will follow.
“There are 800,000 unemployed women in the UK. The tech sector needs 600,000 people now and a predicted 1 million by 2020. It’s not hard to see that women who have worked in other industry sectors with transferable skills and the right attitude and passion will enjoy a successful career in technology. June possesses all of these.”
Recent figures show that many women are not taking IT related subjects on into further education. By the end of 2014 the number of female computer science students had dropped to 13%, compared to 14% in 2010. The reasons for the decline are varied, but for June and other women like her, the perception of a male dominated industry was a key factor, rather than a lack of interest in pursuing a career in IT.
June already has her sights on establishing herself as a highly skilled IT technician, with plans to add to her skills with various Microsoft accreditation.
About The Emerald Group
The Emerald Group of companies is the ideal partner to SMEs in the UK and overseas. Split into three individual divisions, the business specialises in mobile communications and strategy, IT Managed Services, and IT Project Management, working with over 250 businesses.
The business is passionate about helping SMEs utilise technology to boost productivity and efficiency, and provides a thorough pro-active monitoring and cost management service to ensure IT continuity that remains within budget for its customers.
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