It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 120,000 vacancies in software development and associated professions in the UK. These are highly skilled and financially rewarding jobs, however learners from disadvantaged backgrounds are under-represented in the tech sector and face significant barriers to accessing these roles.
Research by The Sutton Trust found that learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, unlike their better-off peers, were not exposed to information about tech roles. In addition, learning coding can be challenging without a tutor to guide and help answer questions when learners get stuck. However, they also report that learners would consider vocational courses in digital development if they understood more about job roles and had sufficient training in the basics.
This project aims to provide adults from disadvantaged communities with software development training. The project will build a platform to teach the basics of coding and provide support via ChatGPT combined with Stackoverflow, the leading forum for programming knowledge. Users will be able to ask questions using ChatGPT that first sends those questions to Stackoverflow via its open API before offering its own answer if it does not find an answer there. The project will also explore whether the combination of these technologies can provide support when learners get stuck. The eight-week course for school leavers will give learners the skills needed to continue onto a Level 2 course in digital/software development or continue their learning independently.