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Student survey data shows Open Source training uptake amongst women and young people remains extreme

Future Cert, the UK and Ireland representative for the LPI (Linux Professional Institute), is calling for more awareness of Open Source software training amongst the under 21s and especially women, which the industry is so desperately in need of.

New figures from a recent Future Cert student survey reveals that the number of women and young people taking LPI Certification in Open Source computing remains extremely low.

Of those questioned, 98% were male, and just 2% were female, taking an LPI exam. This figure is significantly less than an already low figure of around 15% to 17% of women in IT careers in general. It raises the question, what does the industry need to do to make an Open Source career attractive to women?

Furthermore, when asked their age group, over 50% of respondents were 31 – 40 years old, 20 per cent were 21 – 30 years old, but none were under 20, despite the fact LPI Certification has been created for students as young as 16 to take alongside workplace training or at a Further Education college.

Most of the students taking the exams were already in Open Source careers and were furthering their learning in Linux.

“It’s not that we don’t want to see these people who are currently taking the exams, we are pleased that in general LPI Certifications are on the up in the UK,” said Bill Quinn, founder of Future Cert. “But we really want to see some sort of increase in women and younger people taking up LPI exams, even if it’s a small one.

“The industry is crying out for it. Whilst it’s great that those already working with Linux software are continuing to further their learning, we need more young people to come through in order to meet the demand in the job market. We are asked all the time by employers, where are all the Linux trained people to fill our vacancies?”

Bill added: “I also strongly believe that having women within Open Source workplaces is incredibly important to create a gender balance – as with any industry. Women offer a different perspective and way of thinking to men, which can be very useful in IT.”

Future Cert would like to see teachers, education bodies and Open Source groups encourage take up of LPI Certification amongst women and young people.

“The more we talk about this problem,” said Bill. “the more exposure it will get and hopefully we will start to get a conversation going about the topic.”