Research by Tech City UK revealed that by 2020, the UK would need another 1 million tech workers to fill the volume of IT job roles created as an outcome of the growing tech industry. Despite the good news, technology companies have struggled to meet this ambitious demand. In fact, if little is done to close the talent gap, UK tech companies could be set to make unnecessary revenue losses.
The recruitment dilemma is not a surprise for most technology companies coupled with the need to create a diverse workforce. Both goals continue to be at the top of the agenda for nearly all UK tech companies. The 2018 Tech Nation Report showed that for the UK, only 19% of women make up the IT workforce in the UK and 72% of workers are over 35, invalidating the assumption that digital tech jobs are made for millennials. Whilst efforts have been made to encourage more girls and younger people to pursue an education and career in IT, the reality remains relatively unchanged. As the challenge rumbles on, tech companies are forced to revise their efforts to encourage more people, especially the minority groups to pursue a career in technology with more success.
So how can MiRo make a difference? Currently, the team are in the process of working with educators at all levels to enhance the appeal and stickiness of STEM learning. During the course of MiRo’s development and as we demonstrated MiRo at universities, schools and at large national and international events, the team (armed with a squad of lovable MiRo’s) began to uncover the power of the MiRo appeal. We were witnesses to MiRo’s magnetism as groups of doting admirers interacted with MiRo by stroking and speaking to MiRo, whilst building up a fine collection of MiRo videos and selfies. Then we started to notice the range of MiRo admirers. We noticed that they were a very diverse bunch indeed - young, old, male and female, MiRo’s appeal was universal.
MiRo’s diverse group of new friends presented the team with plenty of food for thought. It didn’t take long for them to see that MiRo could not only be used to enhance STEM learning in the classroom but it could also be used to attract the minority groups in IT by igniting their curiosity for technological innovation. MiRo, and robots like it, could be part of the movement that will enable, empower and entice the next generation of tech talent so that tech companies can achieve their goal of creating a talented and diverse IT workforce.
The MiRo team have always known that biomimetic companion robots are appealing to humans from all walks of life - humans are intrinsically drawn to animals. MiRo’s appeal to everyone is based on its animal-like qualities - robust, adaptable and good at communicating its feelings. This makes MiRo particularly suited to robot-human interaction with everyone, from the tech veteran to the newcomer in technology.
Whilst the link between biomimetic robots and getting more girls to code might not be initially obvious; the MiRo team are able to foresee the potential of using biomimetic robotics to stimulate STEM learning as a fun and cool subject that will provide a bright future for everyone.