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Careers in Tech 2020

How one woman’s return to work journey sparked an ambition for global change

Credit: Tech Returners

Beckie Taylor

CEO, Tech Returners

On a mission to fix the ‘leaky bucket’ effect on women’s careers in technology, Manchester-based, Tech Returners, is bringing its successful career-supporting programme to London this year.

It’s a business born of the lived experience of co-founder, Beckie Taylor. Having spent 15 years working in senior HR roles in tech companies, Beckie took maternity leave but, following the birth of her son, Ethan, she found that coming back to the industry was a challenge.

Often, business events were only held in the evening – and the industry moved so quickly, that her confidence was soon knocked. So she created the Women in Tech North community and soon found she wasn’t alone. 

The stage was set for change

Fast forward to 2017 and Beckie and Co-Founder, James Heggs, set up Tech Returners, which focuses on supporting returners back into a technology career after a break. The organisation teaches full-stack development, front-end, back-end and cloud services over an eight-week programme to bring employees back up to speed. 

Each cohort of the Tech Returners programme has 16 people who work in groups of four on a specific brief. This approach allows teamwork that replicates a real industry environment, using current processes and methodologies.

There is so much passion from these people to return to a career in this sector.

Real roles, real returners; real impact 

The programme is focused on getting returners back into roles, and works with businesses who sponsor between one and four places on the programme, keeping it free and accessible for the returner and offering companies a competitive option for tech talent.

Previous sponsors have included the BBC, Booking.com and AutoTrader. Uniquely, sponsors are also involved in the process of setting the brief and, at the end of the programme, they have 16 people upskilled and ready to apply for their open roles.

Going for growth and global impact

Beckie says: “If you take a look at the job market, companies are all looking for mid-level developers. We’re just connecting the dots – bringing that mid-level experience into our programme and enabling them to re-skill and connect with those companies.”

It’s a programme that has proven successful in Manchester with more than 52 careers into technology enabled since 2017. Eighty-eight per cent of those were women.

A trial run at the BBC’s White City office saw 23,000 applications for 16 places – proving the talent is out there. This programme is just the fix needed to plug that leaky bucket.

London sponsors enabling returner journeys

AI Data company, Eigen Technologies, has signed up to be one of the London programme sponsors. Speaking about the decision, co-founder and CEO, Dr Lewis Z Liu, says: “With everything going on in the world today, we are rethinking what we can do to ensure we recruit from a truly diverse talent pool. Those wanting to return to our industry after time out face significant challenges and represent a group that is often overlooked by tech companies. We are delighted to be joining the Tech Returners programme in London, supporting this brilliant initiative and sponsoring someone’s career journey back into their chosen industry.”

For co-founders, Beckie Taylor and James Heggs, the move to London is part of the first chapter in the story of their mission to make a real impact on people’s lives on a global scale. Beckie says: “There is so much passion from these people to return to a career in this sector. Because of that passion, they add so much value to the businesses they join. Companies need to understand that, and, if we could make that impact – on both returners and the businesses who employ them – globally, that would be amazing.”

Applications and sponsor places for your return to tech are open now.

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