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UK economy cannot afford downtime in run up to busiest time of the year for ecommerce shopping

BRITISH tech bosses are warning of potential systems crash as we approach Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the extra demand running up to the Christmas trading period as ecommerce systems will be pushed to breaking point, with an unprecedented surge in demand from shoppers and issues in the supply chain and delivery fulfilment.

Add in a massive shortage of trained quality engineers that are needed to build quality into e-commerce systems and a perfect storm has been created. With just 2 months until Christmas, retailers face an unprecedented demand on the supply of products and the delivery of goods to customers, but systems in place are not able to support the demand as several British retailers have reported systems issues and websites crashing.

Quality engineering and software testing plays a critical role in ecommerce retailing as we rely on more online purchases. Credersi and ROQ, (ROQ is based in Chorley and London) which are at the forefront of tech training and quality engineering; are addressing the shortage of quality engineers through a uniquely designed fast-track training course. They are also increasing their efforts to encourage more ethnic diversity in tech, along with more women, ex forces, apprentices, return to work and career changers.

Stephen Johnson, Founder and CEO of ROQ, 1 of the leading figures and experts in the industry said:- "As we approach the busiest time of the year with Christmas just weeks away, retailers are faced with an unprecedented set of demands from consumers. Demand is outstripping supply and goods are taking longer to manufacture and deliver. Much of this due in part to the factors of Brexit, the Pandemic, and the horrific war in Ukraine. All of us have come up against website outages or instances of technology not working as it should, and these issues also perfectly demonstrate the vulnerability of systems if they do not have quality built into them and are not regularly tested. No company is too big to fail and the impact on any business can be devastating both financially and in losing customer trust and goodwill."

A year ago the cloud computing service 'Fastly' took down thousands of websites in multiple countries, costing numerous businesses billions in lost revenue. Retailers such as Amazon and eBay also found their websites had disappeared for an hour. These 2 companies alone boast a combined £25 billion in annual sales in the UK, meaning a 1 hour outage would have cost £3 million between them over that period. Other ecommerce sites such as PayPal were also hit and based on their reported transactions of $963 billion, the 1-hour outage would have put a stop to $106 million of transactions.

Johnson continued:- "It is absolutely vital that any high street or online retailer with an ecommerce presence ensures that their quality engineering and software testing is put front and centre of their operations. There simply aren't enough Quality Engineers to keep up with the demand by British companies and very soon this will reach breaking point. Together with Credersi, we are working to address that issue and have created a:- 'best in class' curriculum in Quality Engineering, taking candidates on a 12 week course followed by client side experience to final certification through our Quality Engineering Academy. Most importantly, the ROQ curriculum will ensure all Academy Consultants are:- 'work ready' to fill those key roles immediately."

The training course; which was originally aimed at graduates and has been newly expanded for 2023 to also provide apprenticeships to attract a wider talent pool of ex-forces, ex-services and 'return to work' candidates; enables Academy Consultants to become fully qualified Quality Engineers. Not only will the engineers gain an ISTQB foundation level qualification in software testing, but they will also benefit from real world skills, using contemporary testing tools and techniques. All of the course topics are supported with real-life challenges and projects to ensure scenario planning.

Vulnerable girls at increased risk due to lack of Police vetting

A report has found that criminals and sexual predators are being allowed into the Police and highlights misogyny and sexual misconduct within the force. In response, Jane Kenyon, founder of social enterprise Girls Out Loud, which works with vulnerable teenage girls in the UK, has issued an urgent plea to make vital changes to UK law immediately. Jane said:- "The report is disturbing and scary but quite frankly, not in the least bit surprising. Misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards female members of society is very much present and looms over us every day. Why has misogyny not been made a hate crime? When will we change the rhetoric that suggests that women's lives are simply not important? Matt Parr, HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, said he 'understands why some forces would want to take a risk on some applicants.' I ask him which part of this decision he understands? What kind of a world are we living in if we're prepared to risk the lives and safety of women and girls. We cannot be prepared to take a gamble on a person's life and future. Yet again, we're sending out a dangerous message that women 'don't matter.' If girls and women can't trust the Police, then who can they trust? We are failing and it cannot be allowed to continue. We desperately need major change to protect our women and girls so that they can feel safe and seen; and we need it now. Action has to come from the top. The Government need to take the lead in changing the conversation around violence to women. What's more, there are crucial, practical changes and safety measures that need to be implemented to support the most vulnerable in society. Enough is enough. Stop normalising violence against women."

Jane has recommended that the following urgent changes be made:-

     Installing more women in senior leadership positions, including in the cabinet and judiciary, to get them "around the table" of decision making.

     Making legal deterrents for violence against women "fiercer."

     Permanently recognising misogyny as a hate crime.

     Better "resourcing and training" the Police to deal with violence against women.

     Thorough vetting and zero risk taking when accepting applicants in to the force.

Girls Out Loud, which is passionate about inspiring and empowering teenage girls to find their voices, harness their self belief and maximise their potential, works with Schools across the North West, offering early intervention programmes including:- 'Big Sister' mentoring programmes which has helped thousands of girls for over a decade. The programme also has the ear of thousands of women too, who step up to be mentors and role model advocates.

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