Scheme supports women build careers in north's burgeoning tech sector

Press Refresh graduate Indhu Vishnu Das (centre), with (L-R) Louise Warde Hunter, Belfast Met; Roseann Kelly, Women in Business; Leigh Meyer, Citi; and Graeme Wilkinson, DfE.

A PROGRAMME launched last year by Women in Business and Belfast Metropolitan College has supported 18 women in finding new jobs across the north’s burgeoning tech industry.

Digital tech firms now employ more than 20,000 people across Northern Ireland, but it’s estimated that just 17 per cent of tech jobs are currently held by women.

Press Refresh is an intensive 17-week programme funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE) to equip female ‘returners’ with new skills necessary to build their careers within the expanding IT sector here.

The programme, which had 20 places available to women, received almost 300 applications and has already aided 18 of the 20 women in securing new roles.

One of the first participants, Indhu Vishnu Das, secured a role within tech and operations across the Citi Group, which has a base in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Chief exective of Women in Business, Roseann Kelly, said: “The IT sector is largely male dominated, but with the support of the Economy Minister and by working closely with our friends at Belfast Metropolitan College, we are enabling women across Northern Ireland to find their place in the country’s booming tech industry.

“This not only helps aspiring women reach their career goals but breaks down barriers to gender diversity in the workplace, creating more inclusive organisations.”

DfE’s director of skills, Graeme Wilkinson said the programme demonstrates the effectiveness of organisations and employers collaborating.

“The success of this programme will, I am sure, highlight to other women that there are options to consider in upskilling or reskilling in IT when returning to the workplace,” he said.

Louise Warde Hunter, chief executive at Belfast Metropolitan College, added: “This highly successful initiative has enabled participants to gain industry relevant skills and qualifications to enable them to pursue a role in data analytics.

“The commitment of all participants to successfully complete this technically challenging programme during the Covid-19 pandemic has been inspirational and I wish them all success in their future roles.”

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