How Sanctuary Graduates helps futureproof to close the tech skills gap

Jul 18, 2022 | Diversity

ISE award winners Sanctuary Graduates and futureproof explain how their partnership is helping to close the tech skills gap.

futureproof’s mission is to resolve the widening tech skills gap in the UK by helping the best, most diverse talent build the technology of tomorrow through its free 13-week coding course and subsequent two-year paid work placements.

Sanctuary Graduates have partnered with futureproof since 2019 to support this mission, growing from three to five cohorts of 10-15 students a year, to now delivering 20 students every month on to the course and into junior tech roles.

Students are found through Sanctuary Graduates’ unique campus networks, put through a full screening process by Sanctuary Graduates and then tested by futureproof, with 5,000 candidates applying in the last 12 months.

Why the futureproof and Sanctuary Graduates partnership works

  • Shared commitment to delivering diverse talent into tech
  • Involvement of key stakeholders from both businesses to drive success
  • Implicit trust in each other’s organisation, aided by in-person collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Flexibility when it comes to screening and attraction methods, and fearlessness when it comes to making changes that will benefit diverse candidates.

“Sanctuary Graduates have collaborated with us (futureproof) since our inception, embedding themselves in our organisation at executive, strategic and operational levels in order to fully grasp and deliver on our mission,” said Simon La Fosse, Founder and Executive Chairman.

Driving diversity is at the heart of the partnership

futureproof and Sanctuary Graduates have worked together to agree to a demanding set of campaign aims, which specifically focus on increasing diversity and extending attraction beyond graduates, to include both school leavers and second jobbers (including ex-military).

These targets include reaching a 50/50 gender split of submissions, 70% BAME and 90% low-middle income candidates by 2023.

Due to the technical nature of the course and work placements, tech students have specifically been targeted.

The most recent application breakdown shows that 59% of candidates are BAME, 27% female and 81% from a lower-middle income, outperforming national averages for tech students in the UK.

Since the start of 2022, futureproof have already had three full cohorts join (one of which was over-filled by 25%) with a total diversity breakdown of 79% BAME, 26% female and 60% lower-middle income (in comparison to 13% of computer science students being female).

Getting embedded

Success has been driven from the very top, with the COO of Sanctuary Graduates and Director of futureproof meeting regularly with the teams to maintain momentum. In turn, the project has been led by futureproof’s Operations Director, Academy Director, course leaders and Sanctuary Graduates’ dedicated futureproof team.

The Sanctuary Graduates team visit the futureproof offices at least one day a week so both organisations can clearly see and adapt to changes in the market and student behaviour.

Quick pivoting

futureproof and Sanctuary Graduates both share the desire to improve and innovate, so when it became salient that some candidates, particularly those who identify as female and BAME, were feeling ‘intimidated’ or ‘apathetic’ by the lengthy interview process and more likely to withdraw, both parties were keen to react.

This led to an immediate project to improve screening, introducing gamified testing through Arctic Shores which has reduced withdrawal rates from 53% down to 3% and focuses on futureproof (and the wider La Fosse brand’s) key values of care, humility and ambition in the interview process.

In summary, the partnership is fast becoming one of the largest graduate recruiters in the UK, from a standing start before the pandemic.

Nearly 200 graduates are now making huge impact at a range of disruptive, market-leading employers, helping to bridge the UK tech skills gap and build tomorrow’s tech.

Sanctuary Graduates and futureproof scooped the Highly Commended award for their partnership at the ISE Awards 2022.

Read more case studies from ISE Award winners

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