Short, online courses can unblock gender and other diversity issues in digital skills education say @IoCoding 

Digital learning initiative, Institute of Coding (IoC) reveals new figures that show how online learning is levelling out a previously male-orientated field. IoC announced today (9 Sept) that it is seeing signs of improved diversity on some of its short courses, including near gender parity on its collection of online digital skills courses hosted on leading social learning platform FutureLearn and created in partnership with the University of Leeds.

Recent course sign-ups on their digital skills programme, that has enrolled more than half a million learners during lockdown, have shown a near gender balance (47% female vs 51% male[1]) – which is a marked improvement from the gender split seen last year in more traditional digital skills education, where only 16% of computer science graduates were women.[2]  

The IoC have also seen a massive uptake on their online programmes since the start of lockdown (an almost 2,000% increase since February 2020), demonstrating a new national need to upskill and reskill from home.

The course collection, titled ‘Digital Skills for the Workplace’, accounts for over 500,000 of the IoC’s online enrolments and offers 15 different courses on topics such as creating a professional online presence, basic computer programming and communication skills. Designed for individuals who are looking to upskill and enhance their employability, these short courses have a particular focus on digital skills that are essential for the world of work. 

Drawing heavily on input from industry experts to ensure learners gain the skills employers need, the collection offers a flexible method of upskilling.

It has proved attractive to a wide variety of participants, including: 

  • women (47% of surveyed learners are women), 
  • people outside of the traditional university age cohort (more than half of surveyed learners are over the age of 25), and 
  • people who are looking for work or are at different points in their career (19% of surveyed learners are unemployed or looking for work and 48% are working full-time, part-time or are self-employed). 

Reception of the digital skills courses has been overwhelmingly positive, with most courses averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars and learners commenting on their usefulness in terms of careers and prospects.

Caroline Dinenage MP 100x100Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage said: 

"I'm pleased such a diverse group of learners is reaping the benefits of these fantastic courses and I urge anyone looking to improve their digital know-how to sign up. Our digital economy can help power the UK's economic recovery from coronavirus and we are determined to make sure everyone can develop the digital skills they need to succeed in the workplace."

The impact these courses could have on learners’ professional lives, especially as the UK recovers from the disruption to employment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, has also been recognised by the Department for Education (DfE), which featured six of the fifteen courses developed by the IoC, FutureLearn and the University of Leeds in its new online platform called The Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit gives access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help people build up their skills, progress in work and boost job prospects. It is open to everyone, whether they are out of work or thinking about changing jobs, have just graduated and are looking to start their career, or if they’re just keen to keep their mind healthy and busy.

An increasing move to flexible and modular educational delivery is an important part of the IoC’s mission to respond to the growing digital skills gap in the UK, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to alter the present and future landscape of work and education, with a large number of people experiencing disruption in their careers. This includes at least 9.3 million temporarily out of work and 1.56 million unemployed in the UK alone. Research also suggests that women are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as they are more likely to be laid off than men. 

Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding said:

“It is clear that, as the UK’s economy turns to the tech sector for recovery, a broad and diverse group of people will need digital skills. However, the national digital skills gap still requires a fundamental structural change that aligns employers and educators more closely together, while helping individuals navigate the landscape of digital education. The Institute of Coding is leading the charge when it comes to encouraging this change, through campaigns such as CTRL Your Future and collaboration with leading employer bodies like techUK. Lockdown has signalled a real appetite for more accessible and flexible courses and we’re here to meet this demand.”

Gillian Keegan100x100Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said:

 “It is wonderful to see so many people from a wide range of backgrounds are engaging with online learning to boost their knowledge. Online courses, such as those on The Skills Toolkit, are an excellent way to gain the vital digital and numeracy skills most valued by employers. With 82% of all job openings requiring at least basic digital skills it is more important than ever that people are able to build their confidence and learn the skills they need to succeed. I’d encourage anyone looking to learn some new skills or boost their knowledge, from graduates to those already in the workplace, to go online and take advantage of the wide range of free, high-quality courses available.”

Justin Cooke FutureLearnJustin Cooke, Chief Content and Partnerships Officer at FutureLearn said:

 “It’s fantastic to see that more than half a million learners from a diversity of backgrounds are finding great value in these digital skills development courses. We are proud that our partnership with the Institute of Coding and the University of Leeds is delivering on our shared vision to transform access to education. This exciting collaboration between industry and academia, delivered on FutureLearn’s unique social learning platform, enables people to learn new skills with others at their own pace. We hope that this partnership will continue to give learners across the globe access to such vital opportunities to upskill or reskill, both now and beyond the pandemic.”

Professor Neil Morris, Dean of Digital Education, University of Leeds said:

“It is fantastic to see these online courses proving so valuable to individuals who will be able to use the knowledge and skills gained to start, or progress, their careers.

“It is particularly pleasing to see these courses reaching, and appealing to, people who have not traditionally engaged with Massive Open Online Courses. This is a testament to the teams involved in designing and creating the courses who have used our research in this area to ensure they represent and portray the target audience, and offer engaging, interactive, learning opportunities inclusive to all.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 13 hours

Recognising and supporting learners who are at risk of, or...

Overview This webinar is intended to explain the nature of harm and abuse caused to learners who may be at risk of, or have experienced sexual...

  • Wednesday, 06 October 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page