Head of Skills & Economic Affairs at Microsoft
Stephen Uden, Head of Skills for Microsoft UK. Stephen’s job is to ensure that the UK IT sector has the skills it needs to help lead UK economic growth. He is responsible for Microsoft’s Britain Works programme, which is helping 500,000 people get skilled and into work through community IT training, apprenticeships and support for back-to-work charities.
How has your company engaged with young people and the community to improve the image of manufacturing?
It is important to help young people understand the types of opportunity available within industry. Often their perceptions of software development is wildly out of kilter with the reality so we reach out to schools to show young people the types of opportunity available.
At the moment we are gearing up to change the way that computing is taught in schools to enable young people to acquire the skills to build technology not just to use it. We have a programme called Innovative Teachers which helps classroom teachers access and share the latest edge resources and techniques. We also run work inspiration sessions for unemployed young people in conjunction with local charities to help build their confidence and enthusiasm.
What have you personally done to improve youth engagement with manufacturing?
My best days are the days when I get the chance to visit schools to talk about careers and opportunities in our sector. While I speak to a lot of different audiences, young people are the most rewarding and challenging groups to work with, they ask such difficult questions.
I particularly enjoy working with young people in our work inspiration sessions where you can see young people’s confidence and motivation develop. It’s great to have Make it in Great Britain as another platform for this type of work.
What more needs to be done?
The image of manufacturing, especially high technology manufacturing, still does not reflect the reality. We need young people to realise that the UK remains a leading manufacturing nation, employing large numbers of highly skilled people.
We are all doing our bit individually, what excites me about Make it in Great Britain is that it brings together all of our efforts into a single, integrated movement.
In addition, we need to feed into schools careers advice to make sure that young people better understand the great range of career options open to them and the nature of the jobs involved.