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UEL brings employers and community members together for talent and diversity 'Hackathon'

Over 100 stakeholders co-design solutions to increase the diversity of east London's talent pipeline

An automated phantom recruitment platform, an embedded work shadowing programme and a ‘career passport’ which would inspire students to pursue innovative employment pathways were just some of the many ideas put forward at the University of East London’s Talent & Diversity Hackathon.

Over 100 people attended the Hackathon, organised by the University and Microsoft and hosted by ABP London. It brought students, academics, employers, education providers and community stakeholders to ABP Royal Albert Dock to explore the future growth, sustainability and diversity of the talent pipeline in east London.

Stakeholders worked together in small groups and were taken through facilitated, ideation and problem solving sessions to ‘explore’ ways to bridge skills gaps and meet employer needs.

Professor Amanda Broderick, vice-chancellor and president of UEL, stressed the importance of being proactive in a rapidly changing environment.

She said, “The University of East London Talent & Diversity Hackathon, in partnership with Microsoft and hosted by ABP, is creating solutions to increase the strength and diversity of the talent pipeline in east London and beyond. We have a significant and growing skills gap in the UK - with the advent of Economy 4.0, both the digital skills now required for almost every type of role and the inter-personal competencies that can’t be replicated by a robot are critical.

“Creativity is the superpower of the 4.0 economy and diversity is one pre-condition of this, yet we recognise that talent pipelines across industry sectors are not as diverse as they could or should be. The University of East London is taking the lead, together with future-thinking employers and the wider enterprise community to innovate and co-create meaningful solutions that work for both those looking for talent and those who want to make use of their talent.”

Groups worked during the day to ‘hack’ solutions under the themes of ‘employment readiness’, ‘career passports’ and ‘career planning’. A total of twelve project ideas were created, all of which will be further reviewed by judges from the University of East London and Microsoft. Three to five of the top suggestions will be invited to a development day and presented at the University’s Royal Docks Education and Enterprise Festival on 12 June at the University’s Docklands Campus.

Over 30 employers were represented, including small businesses from Newham and Tower Hamlets, and larger corporations such as Barclays, PWC, Accenture, Hello Fresh, Excel, West Ham, and Amazon. The event also attracted a number of community partners and representatives from other organisations.

Microsoft’s Chris Rothwell, director of education, said, “Microsoft is focused on empowering every student on the planet to achieve more. By working alongside UEL and organising events such as the Talent Hackathon we are not only encouraging creativity powered by technology, but also enabling students to effectively prepare for the modern workplace. Initiatives such as the Hackathon are helping students to expand their digital skills and expertise, which is essential in closing the digital skills gap in the UK.”

Keith Rudwick, ABP London’s director of operations, human resources and administration, said, “We have had a former UEL student on our team who has developed into a valuable member of our company, so we too have employed local talent. This event reiterates just how important it is for the next generation to be better prepared.”

Chris Davis, attending as a representative from the non-profit Literacy Pirates from Haringey and Hackney, said, “We are here to help think of ways to have the most diverse volunteer base possible. We hope that it will help to increase diversity and hint at some solutions to tackling barriers to diversity.”

“This is an opportunity to get together ideas about how we can get students ready for the work place,” said James Kilden, associate director of sport at UEL. “We are working really hard to get students to use the sports industry as a vehicle to enable students to gain more employability and to find out what employers think they are missing and what students think they are missing.”

Temisan Williams, education manager at West Ham United Foundation, explained, “We are running degrees in conjunction with UEL and students do work placements with us. We always have jobs coming up, especially in the third sector and we engage with young people based around community work and sports development in East London. This is a very useful and informative event for us.”

The ideas presented at the Hackathon will be shortlisted and this select group will give presentations at UEL's Royal Docks Education and Enterprise Festival on 12 June. Anyone interested in the event or hearing more about some of the ideas developed on the day, please contact Rebecca Moodie at R.A.Moodie@uel.ac.uk.