Tech Returners, an initiative which develops skills and provides training and development for people looking to return to work after a break, has announced the launch of a new 15-week course aimed at those looking to refresh their knowledge before they return to roles in tech, use transferable skills to enter the tech industry or start a business in the sector.
Beginning in September 2018 at PWC, No.1 Spinningfields, Manchester city centre, a range of tech and Returners’ coaches will teach an in-depth course programme with the initial three weeks covering computer science, followed by five weeks of UI Development and five weeks of Cloud and Data development, supported by continuous personal development throughout the course in areas such a career planning, self-awareness and team effectiveness. There will also be weekend workshops on one weekend day every month to help with their understanding of the different elements of tech such as UX and UI testing and understanding different languages.
Tech Returners was founded in 2017 by Beckie Taylor, who is also co-founder of CLOS Consultancy – a company which support tech businesses scale through the alignment of people and technology. Beckie focuses on strategic HR talent and performance management, and is also co-founder of Women in Tech North, which now has over 720 members since starting in 2016. A returner herself, Beckie created Tech Returners after her own personal experience of trying to find a way to balance both work and family so she could help others to come back to tech after a career break.
Following two free taster coding courses held at Barclays’ Eagle Labs at The Landing in Media City in October 2017 and April 2018, Beckie knew there was an appetite from people, predominantly women, wanting to get back into the world of work post-children. There were also dads, carers, ex-offenders, and those who have experienced long-term illness, all wanting to learn more and empower their own journeys back into the working world.
“Tech Returners is designed to break down the barriers for people returning to, or starting out in tech. We offer an introduction to coding, as well as leadership mentoring and personal development guidance. The courses and the app are themed around discovering and developing skills, building a new network and embarking on a successful career unique to you. Tech Returners provides a supportive learning environment and shows that it is possible to return, that previous experience and skills are valued and really that we are just here to support you in your journey back to working in tech – whatever form it takes,” Beckie explains.
The initiative is also aiming to address the issue of women who, when returning to work, are in many cases forced to return to lower skilled or lower paid jobs and struggle to find flexible working opportunities to combine with childcare. It will also seek to help the skills gap within the tech sector.
A report released by PWC in 2016 found that returning women are generally underused in the workplace, paying a penalty for having a career break. This includes highly skilled professionals and research highlights that there is a £1bn potential of women returners to the marketplace.
Tech Returners has received support from a range of businesses in the region, as well as a personal endorsement from Richard Jeffrey of Business Growth Hub. The talent skills gap in tech is top of the Northern Powerhouse agenda and focuses on untapping the talent pool of those returning to the sector. Greater Manchester as a whole has a set a 50/50 diversity target to meet by 2025 and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s GM Strategy aims include tackling the skills challenge, helping with GM productivity, providing inclusivity and ‘good’ jobs.
As part of the course, the returners will also have the chance to work on live briefs in partnership with Tech 4 Good – a community-based organisation in Manchester that aims to promote, encourage and raise awareness of the benefits of using technology for good and how to act more ethically in the tech sector.
Alongside Beckie in the Tech Returners team sit tech coaches James Heggs and Laura Kenny. James has over 11 years’ experience as a software engineer and DevOps consultant for both public and private sector businesses, and will be teaching returners cloud infrastructure, development processes and data manipulation. Laura is an experienced software developer and was nominated for the Northern Power Women ‘One to Watch’ award, she will oversee UI development and returner mentoring.
Laura says, “I have first-hand experience of changing careers and getting to grips with a new industry, along with all the excitement and imposter syndrome moments that come along with it. I’m passionate about how learning to code has changed my life and I’m really looking forward to helping other people who are also on that journey or considering embarking on it. Tech Returners not only gives people a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, but also to build a supportive network and gain confidence through working collaboratively in a non-judgmental and fun environment.”
The paid-for course will take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am – 4pm with a remote day of learning on Wednesdays so returners can fit around their schedules of childcare, commuting and other commitments. There are also weekend workshops held by Tech Returners’ coaches and volunteer mentors.
The first course has 16 places and is priced £3,500 for the 15-week term. The team is already in talks with businesses in the region to offer sponsored scholarships for returners, as well as creche facilities on site.