Tech industry in Cork urged to provide 100 work placements for female students

16 May 2014

The tech cluster in Cork has been called upon to provide 100 work placements for female transition-year students to stimulate their interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

it@cork European Technology Cluster chairman Denis Collins challenged the industry to be more visionary in providing transition-year students with work placements in order to spark their ambition for careers in STEM.

A Smarter Placement Programme has been devised to accelerate transition-year student work placements in STEM.

Collins said work placement is a key element of most transition-year programmes and is often remembered by students as one of the highlights of their ‘TY’ year, yet, sourcing the placement is often left up to the students themselves.

ICT companies see fewer work-placement applications from female students

Collins said ICT companies typically see fewer work placement applications from young female students than their male equivalents. Initiatives like this aim to facilitate equal opportunity work placement.

Caroline O’Driscoll, partner, KPMG, it@cork board director and founder of the Smarter Placements Programme, said that with more than 4,500 ICT jobs currently unfilled in Ireland, women can be part of the solution, and many studies have shown that female participation in ICT remains low.

“The Smarter Placement Programme is designed by women who have ‘been there, done that’ for young women to guide them towards an exciting and rewarding career in tech. It is very encouraging to see the number of Cork companies who have already embraced this initiative,” O’Driscoll added.

Recent studies have also shown that employers are increasingly considering work placements as another element of the recruitment process and there can be a ‘considerable difference’ between those who have done work placement and those who have not. Even placements as short as one week can enhance the employability of the student when they complete their studies.

“We know the insight students get into the world of work from a work placement experience can be very relevant and directly influential in the subjects they choose at third level,” said Gillian Bergin, EMC, it@cork board director and co-chair of the Smarter Placements Programme.

“This programme is about providing equal opportunity for women to gain valuable work experience, especially in the ICT area, where they are typically under-represented,” Bergin said. “Women naturally perform many of the skills valued in tech roles, for example, problem solving, resource planning and multi-tasking, so an opportunity to see the value of those skills in a work environment is very rewarding.”

Girl coding image via Shutterstock

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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