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Diversity and inclusion in tech with Take2

Posted 6 months ago in Advisors by Ruth James
Posted by Ruth James

Here at Xero, we actively support diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. We recognise that a diverse workforce is a strength that enables businesses, including ours, to better understand and serve customers, attract top talent and innovate successfully. Part of our work in this space in Aotearoa/New Zealand has included working alongside a charitable organisation called Take2. The kaupapa (purpose) of Take2 is to teach incarcerated individuals to code, enabling meaningful employment opportunities and ultimately breaking the cycle of crime through tech. 

Getting set up for success

Take2 started out at South Auckland Correctional Facility, operated by Serco New Zealand under a Public Private Partnership with the Department of Corrections. It is looking to expand its programme across the ditch in Australia in the next 12 months. 

Students are vetted for appropriate levels of numeracy and literacy before joining the programme. Take2 do not take on anyone who’s been convicted of sex offences or cybercrimes. 

As well as coding skills, the students also learn other tech related skills, practices and competences such as (but not limited to) Agile, Design Thinking, communication skills, mindfulness, problem solving and how to develop a growth mindset. The curriculum is broken down to 30 hours per week over 12 months. 

Due to the nature of the prison there are a number of restrictions the students face while learning, such as not having access to the internet and unable to take devices outside of the classroom.

Once the students have ‘graduated’ (been released), Take2 continues to provide a wrap-around service providing the resources, connections and support for a life-changing experience for a minimum of 24-months as they reintegrate back into the community.

Helping to build meaningful change

This mahi (work) is super important in improving our current incarceration statistics, including 58% recidivism rate after two years of release and 80% unemployment rate after one year of release.

Take2 and its students understand the importance of this opportunity and see it as life changing, not just for the students but also for their whanau (family), community and society.

“Before I started Take2 I had no hope of a positive future for myself. The last few years leading up to my imprisonment was a downward spiral of failure and disappointment. My incarceration was the end of that spiral and I couldn’t see a positive life for myself anymore. Since then, Take2 has turned my life around and has helped me build real meaningful changes in myself that I never knew I had in me, and supports me through every step of my journey. Take2 really feels like a second chance at life and has been a healing experience for me. I feel happy, confident and can see a bright and better future for myself and my family,” shares one student.

The Take2 programme has a positive and wide knock-on effect for those with criminal convictions, their families and society. It also provides a much needed pipeline of diverse talent for the technology industry here in Aotearoa. 

It takes a village

At Xero, we’ve supported Take2 in a number of ways, including: 

  • Designing and fitting out two classrooms in the prison
  • Running a Design Thinking workshop with students in the prison
  • Donating ‘retired’ laptops
  • Providing programme and curriculum support
  • Contributing to the Apprentice Playbook created for employers and graduates from Take2 
  • Providing reading material and stationary in prison classroom 

We recently took part in a Techweek22 panel discussion with a number of other local tech companies to discuss why we believe it is important to support this programme. You can watch the full korero (conversation) here

In the long term, Xero is looking to offer roles at Xero to some Take2 graduates . 

If you want to find out more about Take2 and help with volunteering, donating or partnering with them, please email the team at info@take2nz.org.

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