“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 per cent” 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 jobs 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 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as an example of best practice. Donnery says: “Our model facilitates companies and individuals to undertake leading edge training in demand from enterprise – with Skillnets networks established in a range of STEM areas including ICT, software, medtech, animation, pharmachem, Fintech, space, aviation, and engineering.”

 
 

Supporting Women

 

Through Skillnets, the tech sector is taking strides to encourage more women to progress to leadership positions, and attract 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.”

"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."

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.”

 
 

The value of re-training

 

Women ReBOOT is designed to provide a learning and support framework: building confidence, establishing new professional networks and updating skills. Software Skillnet Director, Maire Hunt, says, “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.”

"I had been out of the workforce for 10 years. Three months later you couldn't tell the difference."

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.”

 

Learn more

Software Skillnets will run Women ReBOOT in Dublin and Cork in the Autumn of this year.

Find out more about Skillnets here.