A highly-successful pilot programme aimed at reintroducing experienced women to tech jobs after career breaks is expanding nationally and looking for new recruits. The programmes will commence in Dublin and Cork this Autumn.

Women ReBOOT aims to get so-called ‘Returners’ back into full-time roles, through a mix of coaching, online learning, networking skills and work placements in leading tech companies.

Software Skillnet believes that women who are qualified and experienced in the sector –  who may have stepped out on a career break to raise families or for other reasons, – can create a new pool of talent for companies. With a little support and upskilling, they could be just what tech companies are looking for.

The booming Digital Technology sector employs 120,000 people in Ireland but studies show the proportion of women employed in technology roles in Ireland is between 16 and 18%.

This summer has seen a slew of headlines and heated debate about the reasons for the global shortfall in female ICT workers. Much attention has focused on making tech careers attractive to girls and young women. However, Software Skillnet says retaining women in the sector is as much of a challenge as attracting them to join. Stats show that after 10 years of experience, 41pc of women have left the technology sector.

According to Maire Hunt, Network Director of the Technology Ireland Software Skillnet, tech companies are not only seeking world class technology skills; they also need people with strong analytic skills, creative skills, human skills, the ability to connect with others, the skills to able to persuade and lead. Typically, women commencing second stage careers have honed these abilities.

“The sector-led pilot programme for Women ReBOOT attracted huge interest from highly qualified and experienced tech women who are looking to step back into work following a career break. What they lack, possibly more than anything, is the confidence to recognize their abilities,” says Maire.

Software Skillnet says there is a lot that women themselves can do to build their confidence, their personal presence and their unique individual strengths after a career break. This is the key to success in re-entry to second stage careers.

“Women who have left the sector often feel that things have moved on too far for them to return, they feel that they may need to hide the fact that they have been on career break or companies just won’t want to talk to them,” says Siobhan Maughan, Programme Director for Technology Ireland Software Skillnet Women ReBOOT. “They can lack confidence in their ability and they need to familiarise themselves with today’s technologies and business models.”

Up to 50 free places are now open for applications from women interested in returning to work in the technology sector. Information evenings will be held in in Cork on October 3 and Dublin on October 5. Registrations can be made at  www.softwareskillnet.ie/women-reboot

Previous participants came from backgrounds in project management, software development, QA roles, testing, UX/UI design, data analytics and technical writing.

Deirdre Noonan took part in Women ReBOOT after 14-years away from the tech sector. She now works for Novitas, an e-learning and training provider. She said: “I realised the gap in my CV wasn’t necessarily an issue. My previous experience was still relevant.” Finishing off her college assignments while continuing her job search, as well as dealing with family life, was a lot to juggle but the support Deirdre received from her coach helped her to manage everything. “It’s helped me to structure my job search and focus on what I want to achieve in my professional life role. It has also clarified the trade-offs between working full-time and part-time. Women ReBOOT has given me lots of insights into the opportunities in technology companies, particularly for my specific skillset. It’s been a fantastic experience.”

Women ReBOOT specifically focuses on supporting ICT businesses to connect with experienced and competent female talent to fill specific roles and to support them in meeting their diversity objectives.

Past participants are now working in a range of tech companies like Mongo DB, Datalex, Abbott, Version 1 and Microsoft.

Commenting on the programme, Orla Kelly, Organisational Development Director, Datalex, said: “Datalex was delighted to be involved in the pilot Women ReBOOT and to have the opportunity to engage with this previously untapped pool of experienced ICT women. The participants in the programme were of a high calibre and have specific experience and skills that are directly relevant to our needs.”

“The sector acknowledges that it needs to take innovative approaches to upskill and re-introduce this pool of talent to the technology sector. They are actively helping us to take the necessary steps to re-engage with women returners,” adds Maire Hunt of Software Skillnet.