Returning to technology

woman touching 3D shape


Are you looking for an opportunity to return to work after a career break? Vodafone is launching a six-month Returning to Technology programme starting on 13 October and is looking for recruits.

The programme was piloted internally last year with seven women and one man who were suggested by Vodafone workers.This year there are places for 30 returners and the telecomms company is advertising externally. Six out of eight of those who took part last year went on to be recruited into permanent roles.

The aim of the programme is to attract people who have been out of the technology industry for some time. In part, Vodafone is seeking to bring women who have left the industry back in in recognition that they represent a significant talent pool. “We recognise that it can be nerve-wracking finding a job if you have been out of the industry for a while,” says Gemma Maslin, an HR Business Partner at Vodafone. “They may feel slightly out of touch with the technology side. Business is moving so fast. The programme gives people a chance to trial what it would be like if they were back in the industry.”

She adds that while it “helps a lot” to have a technology background, people with transferrable skills, such as project management, will also be considered.

Potential candidates are interviewed by relevant managers who are looking to fill roles which may be project-based or part of ongoing work and are treated as contractors. If they get on well they might be taken on permanently before the six months are out. Last year’s recruits included people who went into permanent roles after two or three months; others were offered permanent roles towards the end of the six months. Several had taken three to four years out while their children were young, while others had taken a longer career break.

Gemma says an important factor in last year’s pilot was a buddying system that Vodafone set up with people already in the business and peer support. The cohort met up every few weeks and could share their experiences. “This was the most valuable part of the programme,” says Gemma, “since many were facing similar circumstances.”

That cohort are keen to help this year’s recruits and will be sharing their experiences as buddies. Vodafone has also asked them for advice on how to improve the programme. One improvement that has been instituted is a one-day induction programme. Last year’s recruits started at different times, but this year everyone will begin together. The induction with give them an opportunity to talk about any concerns and is a summary version of Vodafone’s usual three-day induction course for new starters.

Gemma hopes that the programme will be held annually. “It’s a real source of talent,” she says.

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