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This week we joined forces with Hackney Council to discuss breaking down barriers between our local community and the wider tech industry, hosting the “Power to Create Your Own Pathway” event in Plexal.

In 2022, our collaboration with Hackney Council saw the launch of a pioneering report, “Breaking the Barriers,” raising awareness about the issues in entering the tech industry, uncovering only 2% of employees across the entire UK tech industry are Black, 11% have disabilities, 17% are women and 23% are aged over 50.

Last year we welcomed our community and thought leaders to our campus for the “Opening Doors to Diverse Talent” Showcase to discuss the disparity highlighted in this report and how we can create new opportunities for diverse talent.

This week, our latest event with Hackney Council built upon this even further; convening local residents alongside a panel of expert voices to explore how we can empower East London’s young innovators to lean into their ambitions, build networks, and carve out their own unique pathways into careers in tech.

What does a typical career path into the technology sector look like? Well given that diverse minds, perspectives, and talents deserve boundless opportunities, the traditional routes and roadblocks must be redrawn, removed and reimagined.

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This was the pinnacle of the afternoon’s discussions and networking opportunities, which provided the chance for those interested in a career in tech to learn from experts and entrepreneurs, connect with prospective employers and education providers, and discover the possibilities of a future in the tech industry.

Opening the event Here East CEO, Gavin Poole, emphasised how initiatives like this help young people realise future possibilities and offer practical guidance to help navigate them:

“The jobs of tomorrow – we don’t even understand what they are yet. But events like this are really important because they help us think about what’s possible in the future, offering insight on how to connect, how to build a network, and how to use that network.”

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Next we heard two compelling panel discussions, both moderated by Sandra Husbands, Director of Public Health for Hackney and the City of London.

The first panel saw three local residents, who have experienced higher-education programmes, take the stage to share their personal experiences and individual pathways into the tech and creative sectors. These speakers spoke passionately about how background doesn’t matter when you have drive, determination and self-confidence, stressing how non-traditional experience can actually bring new skills and creativity to a role.

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Following this we heard from Bayile Adeoti, CEO of Dechomai Ltd; Vanessa Brown, entrepreneur and PhD student; and Cec Richards, CEO of the Slenky digital platform, who shared insights on how more opportunities can be unlocked for young people. Together they underscored the power of apprenticeships, of establishing a vision for your future career, and how co-working spaces can help catalyse serendipitous connections and build networks.

As emerging technologies redefine the way we think, work, and live, it’s clear that greater diversity in the tech sector is vital to ensure the technologies developed are fit for purpose in our diverse and changing world.

"I love the Here East motto that 'Here we make the impossible possible' - we need to teach this to our youth so they know anything is possible if they have passion” said Bayile Adeoti underscoring Here East’s commitment to the next generation of talent.

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The event concluded with a Jobs & Skills Marketplace featuring a range of employers, skill providers and academic institutions seeking diverse talent including Staffordshire University London, Teesside University London, Canva, TFL, University of East London, V&A East, Loughborough University London, Hackney Apprenticeships, LIFT and more.

Rather than simply map out a set of defined routes into tech careers, this was a fantastic opportunity to showcase how the next generation can harness a new currency of soft skills like ambition, curiosity, creativity and self-determination to carve out a unique path – no matter their background or experience.

A huge thank you to all those who joined us on the day; we look forward to connecting with you again soon.

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