What does your company do?
GoCompare enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and utilities in a quick and easy way. In short, we help people find great deals.
We disrupted the insurance market when we launched in 2006 as the first comparison website to display policy details rather than just listing prices. Our goal was, and still is now, to help people make better-informed purchasing decisions.
We have remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products for them and their families, rather than just the cheapest. To that end we have teamed up with Defaqto to integrate additional policy information into a number of our insurance comparison services, and we were also the first to make use of customer reviews to give people a comprehensive picture before they decide to buy.
We work with trusted insurance providers, financial services organisations and partners to provide a breadth of coverage across the market.
Why are you supporting the Wales STEM Awards?
We’re proud to be a Welsh FinTech company, so it was a no brainer for us to support the first dedicated celebration of STEM initiatives and businesses in Wales. We launched our GoFurther Academy in May 2018 which focuses on apprenticeships, internships, work experience, graduate schemes and career changers, largely in the tech space. The GoFurther Academy saw us launch our STEM Ambassadors programme last year, which has seen colleagues across our tech and data teams start working with local communities and schools to show the benefits of studying and pursuing careers in STEM subjects.
In 2019, we partnered with Swansea University and the Open University in Wales to offer fully funded degree apprenticeships in Applied Software Engineering for people in the local area to join GoCompare as Trainee Software Engineers, and existing staff to upskill and/or retrain in software engineering, as they all earn as they learn to become Software Engineers. We work hard to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk to continue to bridge the gap between education and the workplace and support the growing tech talent pipeline in Wales. We are really excited to champion all things STEM in Wales.
What or who is exciting you in the STEM Sector in Wales?
GoCompare is part of GoCo Group, a Group made up of tech businesses, so what’s particularly exciting us at the moment is that Wales has the fastest growing digital economy in the UK outside of London. It’s estimated that the tech sector is worth £8.5bn to the Welsh economy*. The growing tech sector in Wales is particularly exciting if you look at the Fintech scene, which is growing through the fantastic incubator and coworking spaces such as Barclay’s Eagle Lab and NatWest’s Entrepeneur Accelerator in the start-up world, but we’ve also recently seen the arrival of Monzo and Starling Bank in the Welsh capital. It’s safe to say the FinTech scene in Wales is thriving.
What do you think could be done to help the STEM sector in Wales?
In order for the STEM and specifically tech sector to truly continue to thrive industry must work in unison with academia and Welsh government to not only showcase the great STEM careers on offer in Wales but to help build a sustainable tech talent pipeline. I recently spoke at the National Assembly of Wales on the Skills, Infrastructure and Economy Committee in favour of degree apprenticeships and the value they can bring to businesses in Wales.
We started our software engineering degree apprenticeship programme for our Newport office in partnership with Aston University but have been able in the last year to partner with both Swansea University and the Open University in Wales. The opportunities we have given to local people to have a fully funded degree and earn while they learn is not currently future proofed by the Welsh Government so we’d not only lobby for more tech businesses to explore this pipeline to early careers talent, or those wanting to retrain. We’ve also called for Welsh Government to explore more opportunities for degree apprenticeships in Data and Cyber Security.
We had close to 200 applicants; from local people to our 2019 degree apprenticeship scheme and a number of prospective candidates who are either self-taught coders or have dabbled with tech in the past but were looking to retrain in a more structured setting. There is clearly the appetite from the community to explore more non-traditional routes into tech, but there are few and far between early career opportunities, and yet we all acknowledge the growing skills gap in the tech sector.
It’s not just about more companies understanding the benefits of partnering with universities and colleges to provide opportunities for Welsh people, but we’re also doing what we can to enter consortiums with other tech, Fintech and financial services companies so that we can learn from and support one another.