Ford puts girls on IT highway to the stars
The world's second biggest automaker has become a key sponsor of the 'A' Star Awards - the first competition to find the country's brightest female computing students.
The Awards are aimed at attracting more girls to take up careers in Information Technology (IT) and redress a serious skills shortage in the industry. Fewer than one-quarter of UK computing professionals - and under 10% of programmers - are women.
The event is organized by principal sponsor Axios Systems, the Edinburgh-based international IT Service Management software firm. Ford's participation moves the Awards up yet another gear - they recently won the backing of Accenture, the world's leading management and technology services organization, and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).
They are being run under the auspices of e-competitions, the UK umbrella body for ICT competitions. E-competitions is led by e-skills UK and works closely with the DfES e-Learning Strategy Unit. Its members include the British Computer Society and leading IT companies.
“We are proud to sponsor these awards which promote overall excellence and encourage girls to pursue a career in the rapidly growing field of IT,” said Richard Thwaite, IT Director, Ford of Europe. “IT is firmly established as a strategic and operational resource at Ford and as such is fundamental to Ford’s European business growth. It is a sector where we need more skilled professionals. These awards are fully in line with our own efforts to attract more women to pursue an IT career at Ford.”
Awards to the top female computing students in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales - based on results in 'A Level' and Scottish Advanced Higher examinations - will be handed over in September. Prizes will be presented to the leading girl in England and the overall UK winner in November in Manchester. The top prize will include cash, laptop computer and a trip to the USA.
Representatives from Ford, Accenture and the EOC will be on the independent panel of experts who will judge the UK final. The Awards are also backed by all six major UK exam awarding bodies.
Ailsa Symeonides, Sales and Marketing Director of Axios Systems, commented: "The Awards are a natural fit for Ford's commitment to equality of opportunity. Diversity and equal opportunities are integral to the ethos of its policies. We're delighted that such a renowned organization is on the same road as us in this vital area.
"Women have important roles to play in the IT industry. Ford's backing will be a great help in breaking down barriers which women currently face in the computing business."
Axios Systems is a leading provider of Best Practice-based IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions. Our customer-centric approach combined with our award-winning solutions, ensure customers worldwide can align their Service and Support organizations with the overall business goals. Our core solution, assyst, intuitively steers users through the ITIL® processes. Axios Global Services provides a range of consulting, project management and training services. Our commitment to Best Practice is demonstrated through being the first to achieve BS 15000 certification which has now become, ISO/IEC 20000, the International standard for ITSM. Axios is headquartered in the UK, with offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.