How Travis Perkins supports women in data through professional apprenticeships

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Travis Perkins plc, which is the largest supplier of building materials and equipment, whose ambition is to be the leading partner to the construction industry, is supporting women across the company to access careers in data through two apprenticeship programmes.

Two apprenticeship programmes – the Data Fellowship and the Advanced Data Fellowship – were launched in November 2021, with the Data Literacy Programme starting in January 2022, to improve colleagues’ data and analytical skills and create routes to careers in data. The programmes cover Python and SQL programming, as well as areas such as data ethics, visual analytics, predictive modelling and data security.

100 colleagues from across the Group, ranging from commercial and finance to marketing and supply chain, are enrolled on the programme, and there are plans to extend the programmes further to ensure data skills are accessible to all.

Among the first cohorts, 39% of participants are women. That represents a significantly higher proportion than in the wider sector: currently, only 18% of today’s data science roles are occupied by women and 11% of data teams don’t have any women in them at all, resulting in a bias built into data-directed insights and analyses that end up influencing critical business decisions.

As Group Data and Insight Director, Rob Barbour is focused on data enablement through technology and data empowerment through training, education and apprenticeships.

Robert Barbour, Group Data and Insights Director at Travis Perkins PLC, said: “Our Data Apprenticeship Programme has 100 colleagues enrolled of whom 2 in 5 are female. I am very proud of our ‘TP PLC Women in Data Network’ and the amazing work that they do, such as celebrating recently for International Women’s Day with a virtual event, the day’s theme was “Break The Bias”. We will continue to create an inclusive environment where everyone belongs, feels safe and comfortable about who they are, is valued for their contribution and can perform at their best; our inclusivity motto is ‘You Be You, It Makes Us Us’.

“Our company’s purpose is to build better communities and enrich lives as we support our customers to build, repair and maintain the many places, buildings and infrastructure that touch all of our lives every day.”

Travis Perkins’ Data Programmes are delivered by Multiverse, a quality apprenticeship programme provider that recently was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

“An empowering programme”

Belinda Baxter is a Data Analyst at Toolstation – part of the Travis Perkins Group. She started at Toolstation working as a Data Analyst in the customer service unit, and is developing her responsibilities and skills set with the support of Multiverse’s degree-level Advanced Data Fellowship.

Belinda said:

“I was making an effort to understand new tools and data understanding without the apprenticeship – but the apprenticeship programme has enabled me to fill in the gaps. I’ve gone from having the basics to being at an intermediate level – and now I have the credentials to work towards a role as a data engineer. It’s very empowering.”
“I have a really supportive manager and there are great allies within the Travis Perkins Group that are supporting women to thrive in data. Everyone has been so encouraging and supportive of me and the other women in the programme. You always have to earn your place in an industry like this, but having others that recognise your potential and invest in you is so important.”
“What’s great about the Multiverse apprenticeship is how clear it is. The programme covers everything you need to know in a straightforward and accessible way. My coach is absolutely fantastic – she’s a cheerleader, and I get the benefit of her experience. She’s a great resource for me.”
“Before I started this programme, I built a dashboard for our staff in frontline roles and their managers. I made it in Google Sheets, and it enabled everyone to access their metrics and monitor their performance and efficiency. As we’ve scaled, that has needed to be retired. Thanks to this apprenticeship, I now have the skills and knowledge to scale the dashboard too: which is helping to keep all of us on track.”

“It’s so helpful knowing things like the names of data – what’s discrete, or ordinal; understanding the GDPR implications; knowing how to protect data; SQL and Looker. I can bring all of that knowledge together into the projects I’m actively working on, like the Key Performance Indicator dashboard. It really gives you independence.”
“This pandemic has shifted a lot of people’s thought process about things. A lot of people are questioning whether their job is right for them, or even their industry. But a career in data is a fantastic way to get that job security – and it’s an area that’s growing fast and becoming more of a desirable choice.”
  Partner, Travis Perkins
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