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Are women returners the solution to the tech sector skills shortage?

  • The ICT sector will need over 70,000 new workers over the next five years with new graduates likely to make up about half of these numbers.  Developing new sources of talent will be critical to our Irish tech sector. One solution could be to tap into an existing talent pool by supporting tech women to returning to work after a career break. 

    Only 17% of ICT professionals are female and a further attrition of around 40% in mid-career means that the sector is losing valuable female talent.

    The Women ReBOOT programme is an innovative initiative from the Technology Ireland Software Skillnet. Funded by Skillnet Ireland, it supports women with technology sector skills and experience to return to work after a career break, by updating technology and professional skills, building confidence and facilitating paid work placements with leading technology firms. 

    Speaking at the ReBOOT graduation of the latest group of 26 women, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton T.D. said:

    “There is acknowledged and untapped potential in women who have taken a career break in the technology sector and who are now looking for a route to return to work. The Technology Ireland Software Skillnet Women ReBOOT programme is an excellent way to support women who are returning to work, as well as reducing the growing skills gap in the technology industry in Ireland. The impact of such programmes is clearly evidenced in better outcomes for both employers and the women who engage with these supports.” 

    Paul Healy, Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland said:

    “Skillnet Ireland recognises the importance of attracting more women and girls into STEM related careers. We are working with employers to identify and develop female tech talent, and we are pleased to support a number of related initiatives with the Technology Ireland Software Skillnet”.

    For the tech sector the value proposition is clear: This pool of qualified and experienced women can help alleviate the current skills shortage, but also help address the gender imbalance in the sector. The key to enabling talented women re-join the workforce is through an integrated approach with employers and placing skills development, business competency and sectoral knowledge at the forefront.”

    Maire Hunt, Network Director of Technology Ireland’s Software Skillnet said: 

    “Women ReBOOT is a bridge between women and technology employers, which provides the opportunity for women to recommence their careers and opens a new stream of talent for tech employers. The programme recognises the wide range of competencies women develop both within and outside the workforce and integrates that with updated knowledge of technology.

    Now on its fourth cohort, we’ve seen 80% of women participants securing immediate employment in the tech sector as software engineers, project managers, scrum masters, technical support engineers and roles in QA and testing.”

    There are plans to expand the ReBOOT programmes to support the progression of women already in the sector towards leadership roles, to conduct research on women in technology in Ireland, and to create a new Women Technology Leaders forum bringing together top tech employers in a new think-tank.

    Funding from Skillnet Ireland will enable a further 100 female technology professionals to re-join the sector and take part in professional development within the sector this year. To find out more about the Women ReBOOT programme, visit www.womenreboot.ie.

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