The next six years will see about 44,500 job openings for people with information and communications technology (ICT) skills. With the right support, now is the time for women with STEM experience to get back into the workforce.
“In Ireland, there are nearly 118,000 people working in jobs that utilise STEM skills. However, the proportion of women employed in such roles stands at less than 25%” says Tracey Donnery, Executive Director of Development at Skillnets. “Core to the success of technology businesses based in Ireland is the availability of talent. Ongoing investment in new skills is vital for the retention of key talent and long-term business success. With more job openings emerging in the tech sector for those with high-level STEM skills, it’s very important for women to see the range of career opportunities these skills can bring.”
Working with enterprise
Skillnets works at the forefront of learning and development in Ireland and has recently been internationally recognised by the OECD as an example of best practice. According to Donnery “Our model facilitates companies and individuals to undertake leading edge training aligned to demand from enterprise – with Skillnets networks established in a range of STEM areas including ICT, Software, Medtech, Animation, Pharmachem, Fintech, Space, Aviation, and Engineering.”
Through Skillnets, the tech sector is making strides to encourage more women to progress to leadership positions, and attracting women with existing STEM experience back into the workforce. Donnery says “Women who have left the sector often feel that things have moved on too far for them to return, they can lack confidence in their ability and need to familiarise themselves with new technologies and business models. One excellent initiative is our Software Skillnets ‘Women ReBOOT’ programme, supported by Technology Ireland, for the pool of female tech talent who have taken a break from the sector.”
It is the first programme of its kind to bridge the gap between talented, professional women and tech employers – with over 20 technology companies supporting it including Microsoft, MongoDB, SAP, Openet, Liberty IT, Datalex, Ocuco, Xilinx and Accenture.
Joe Hogan, Founder of Openet, explains “There is a crying need for experienced talent in the software and technology sectors. With some re-training, many women returners could perfectly meet this need. Their abilities would be a huge asset to many companies.”
Women ReBOOT is designed to provide a learning and support framework: building their confidence, establishing new professional networks and updating their skills. Software Skillnet Director, Maire Hunt, “We are seeing that the gender imbalance in the tech sector increases over time. Across the EU, twenty per cent of women aged 30 with ICT-related degrees work in the sector but only nine per cent of women above 45 years of age do so. Our first Women ReBOOT has already helped 28 tech women to return to the sector.”
Caoimhe Carton, a recent graduate of Women ReBOOT says “Even applying was a challenge for someone who had been out of the workforce for 10 years. Three months later I can’t tell you the difference in my confidence levels and how much more prepared I feel about returning to the workforce. It’s been amazing and life-changing.” Software Skillnet will run Women ReBOOT in Dublin and Cork in the Autumn of this year.
Further information on the Software Skillnet Women ReBOOT programme is available at:
The article above appeared in a special supplement on Women in STEM in the Irish Independent on Friday 23rd June, 2017.