Mantel Group launches million-dollar training program for women in technology

'If they've got the right attitude… we can provide them with the rest'

Mantel Group launches million-dollar training program for women in technology

Australian tech firm Mantel Group has launched a million-dollar training program to kickstart the careers of women in technology. The organisation has ramped up the scale of its traineeship program for 2021, taking on 15 trainees for a nine-week period at the end of June, before welcoming a second cohort later this year. The scheme aims to give women and gender minority groups the opportunity to be mentored by senior leaders and develop their technical skills, with the aim of securing a full-time position with the business at the end of the program.

Speaking to HRD, Mantel Group’s head of people & culture, Caroline Henshaw, said the program is a great opportunity to start shifting the dial on diversity in the technology industry.

“We've noticed by running the program over the last two years that there's some amazing emerging females who are doing coding courses and starting to get interested, but don't have any experience and haven't done a full degree,” she said.

Technology is a notoriously male-dominated sector, and Henshaw said out of 100 applications for a role, they would expect to see just 10 coming from women. There are many factors that contribute to the issue, and some like a lack of girls being encouraged into STEM subjects, are largely outside of a business’s control. But beyond education, factors like discrimination, harassment, a lack of flexibility and non-diverse company cultures, have put women off careers in tech. Research shows that even when women do enter the sector, they tend to leave at the age of 35 – and not simply to have children.

Read more: Shifting the dial on diversity and inclusion at work

However, thanks to investments like Mantel Group’s training program, the tide is changing. Organisations now have a far better understanding of the benefit diversity brings, especially in an industry that relies on innovation. Henshaw said it is refreshing to bring new people who have experience from all walks of life into the business. From starting with three trainees in the business’s first year to the 40 they expect to take on in 2021, the program is growing in leaps and bounds.

“Sometimes diversity can be really challenging in the tech space because it's so hard to make progress despite good intention,” she said. “But to actually see our talent pool getting bigger and to see our current trainees inspiring other trainees once they become full time employees, it's a self-perpetuating thing and it's a really fulfilling aspect of my work.”

Read more: Australian start-up Brighte introduces gender neutral parental leave policy

The program requires trainees to have some basic coding experience, such as taking part in a bootcamp or a short training course. But Henshaw said the real focus when they’re considering applicants is the attitude they bring to the program. Previous experience in the workforce, even if it’s entirely unrelated to technology, is a positive. All too often, the idea of making a career change later in life is seemingly impossible – especially if you’re a woman. But Henshaw said this is where these types of training programs can really make a difference.

“In our opinion, it’s our job to teach them the tech skills and we've got amazing tech leaders who can do that,” she said. “If they’ve got the right attitude, they’re self-starters and they align with our company’s principles, then we can provide them with the rest.”

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