Saturday 19 August 2017

Have you still got it? Irish tech firms looking for highly skilled women who wish to re-enter industry

A number of Ireland's top technology firms are backing the Women ReBOOT initiative
A number of Ireland's top technology firms are backing the Women ReBOOT initiative
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Women who wish to return to the tech industry after a career break are being encouraged to bridge their skills gap and build their confidence through a innovative new programme.

A number of Ireland's top technology firms are backing the Women ReBOOT initiative, the first time such a collaboration has occurred, in response to the gender imbalance in IT.

The brainchild of Software Skillnet, ReBOOT aims to serve both the industry and women finding it difficult to re-enter it by offering coaching and professional guidance to an already skilled workforce.

Highly talented women can lose belief in their potential and ability if they are out of the sector for a few years, according to Network Director of the Software Skillnet Maire Hunt.

"Building confidence in their potential though technology upskilling, individual coaching and offering a look inside the sector through engagement with our sponsor companies is crucial," she said.

Tech companies such as Accenture, SAP, S3 Group, Openet. Version 1 and MongoDB, are among those supporting the initiative.

“There is a crying need for experienced talent in the IT sector and many women could perfectly meet these key needs with a little retraining. Their abilities would be a huge asset,” founder of global software company Openet Joe Hogan said.

A number of those women who have taken a career break have done so to raise families but are now looking to "take the next step".

Portmarnock-based Amanda Evans (43) was made redundant from her role as a global project manager in June 2012 following an impressive background in communications and project management.

With two small children, she decided to take a small career break - but did not realise how difficult it would be to get back on the ladder.

"I did everything that I thought I should do - I ticked all the boxes, but I just wasn't getting any interviews," she told independent.ie.

"I went back to college and did two Springboard courses, I made sure my LinkedIn profile was up to date, I had a professional look over my CV, I signed up to all the job alerts and I spent several hours a day reaching out to companies."

After reading an article about schemes abroad for women in her position, Ms Evans turned to Google to look for similar schemes here.

"There are lots of women similar to my age group and I haven't seen anything available until I came across ReBOOT," she said.

"That is such massive skill set to be just left there. But these programs are not just about the CV - it's about confidence after being out of the industry for so long."

As part of the programme, industry experts will offer guidance in a bid to rebuild confidence in the women involved and support flexible access to work placements with partner companies.

Monthly seminars and access to customised learning paths in a flexible online learning platform are also available in the programme.

Some women may have the impression that the sector has moved beyond them, since their time away, and that tech companies are now dominated by younger professionals and millennials. However, tech leaders say this is not the case.

 “Addressing the gender balance in technology companies and ensuring that we retain and re-engage women in the sector, is an important priority for the Irish tech sector," Paul Sweetman, Director, ICT Ireland & the ISA, Ibec said.

The programme is now open for applications and the information evening is being held on February 16 in Dublin

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