Three women are standing by a tree outdoors, while two are wearing masks and holding up their thumbs for the launch of the Growing Your Potential returnship programme.
From left: Arlene Pope, Siobhán O’Neill and Antoinette Gibbons. Image: Brian Lougheed

Free returnship course for women in Cork now taking applications

30 Mar 2021

The Growing Your Potential programme aims to help women develop the confidence and skills to re-enter the workforce.

Cork City Partnership has opened applications for its next Growing Your Potential course, which looks to help women build the confidence and skills to return to the workforce after a career break. The group is providing the returnship programme as a free online course, covering networking, digital technology and more across 10 weeks.

Participants also get access to private coaching on CV preparation, interview techniques and presentation skills.

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Brenda Cahill, chief executive at Cork City Partnership, said that a lack of confidence is often a key limiting factor for women who want to return to work. “Women often don’t realise the abilities they’ve built up working in the home,” she said.

“They’re so busy caring for others and running the home that they’ve lost perspective on how much they have to offer. This course helps remind them of how valuable their contribution is and would be to prospective employers.”

Growing Your Potential is led by employment support worker Siobhán O’Neill. “We’ve all seen an opportunity and thought to ourselves. ‘I’d love to do that’, but something always gets in the way,” O’Neill said.

“To those women we’re saying, ‘Give us 10 weeks and we’ll give you a massive boost in your self-confidence and vision of where your working life could take you’. This is your moment, the time you choose to put yourself first and work with us.”

‘It’s a win-win’

Two past students of the returnship programme, Arlene Pope and Antoinette Gibbons, shared their experiences from the course.

For Gibbons, the practical aspects of the course helped her go back to the medical sector, in which she had previously trained as a dental nurse.

“It gave me the confidence to say I wasn’t too old, I did have skills,” she said. “Whether there was an opportunity in a shop, a factory or anywhere, I had the tools to prepare my CV, figure out how and where to apply, how to make a good impression in an interview and more.”

Having trained in her 20s as a laser therapist, Pope later took a career break to care for her son. When she made the decision to upskill and return to work, she said that the Growing Your Potential programme helped restore her self-confidence.

“After [the course], I was able to look at myself in a totally different way,” she said. “It turned out Siobhán and the team were right – we have so many skills that transfer to the workplace that you can put to good use in any situation.”

“I believe any woman who’s been working in the home should do the course. It gave me a sense of autonomy, and gives you back a bit of your own identity that you can lose when you’re at home. You’re also going to meet new people, make new connections and friends, so it’s a win-win.”

To learn more about Growing Your Potential and how to apply, visit the website here.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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