Teen-Turn, the teen internship programme aimed at female post-Junior Certificate students from disadvantaged backgrounds, is partnering with Hays Ireland for a second year this summer.
By connecting schools with local businesses, the initiative encourages women into tech careers and informs post-Junior Certificate students choosing their Leaving Certificate subjects about education and career opportunities in tech. Teen-Turn also works to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes in tech.
Extensive research has identified that girls typically lose interest in STEM at age 15. With this in mind, Teen-Turn works with schools to identify participants with promise, ages 15-16, who may benefit from the exposure to senior tech professionals. The programme is particularly aimed at female students from DEIS schools.
The girls engage in ‘Teen-Turnships’ by working on projects with female tech role models. The role models are drawn from a range of different disciplines, including programming, web development, data analytics and digital marketing. Crucially, the Teen-Turnships forge connections between companies and their local communities, building relationships and creating immediate and long-term employment opportunities. The Teen-Turnships are scheduled for the first two weeks in August.
Catrina Carrigan, Teen-Turn advisor, DCU Computer Applications student and Intel Women in Technology scholarship recipient, said:
“The only thing we learned about computers in school was how to use Word. Most of the jobs that we need to fill in this country are in roles students can't understand because they never get to learn about them. Through my own work experiences, I was able to learn about a world of careers in tech that my friends didn't even know existed. My work experience definitely had a huge influence on my CAO choices.”
James Milligan, Director at Hays Ireland, said:
“It’s been shown that learning alongside female role models positively impacts girls’ self-image and confidence, making them more likely to pursue a particular field or skill.
“Ireland’s tech sector is struggling with an ongoing skills shortage and as a result, many companies must look abroad to plug talent gaps. This is a partially self-inflicted problem. As it stands, we’re not fully activating our workforce. Women in tech are still in the minority, particularly in ‘pure’ programming and design roles. Many feel like they don’t have the prerequisite skillsets for tech jobs, while others are put off by what they perceive to be a male-dominated industry. This needs to change.
“Initiatives like Teen-Turn are helping young girls to understand that they are just as capable at programming a piece of software or building a website as their male peers, and that the work itself is fun, challenging and extremely fulfilling.
“For employers participating in Teen-Turn, it’s a win-win. Not only are they helping to address the gender skills gap, they’re also making a long-term investment into future hires. As the skills shortage is likely to worsen in the years ahead, the ability to tap into a familiar and skilled pool of candidates is a hugely valuable asset.”
Among the schools that successfully participated in last year’s initiative was Kylemore College, Ballyfermot. Despite the school’s proximity to a number of major multinationals in West Dublin, only 16 percent of students from the Ballyfermot area will enrol at a third-level institution*, and even fewer will ever pursue careers in technology.
According to Lesley Keegan, School Completion Co-ordinator at Ballyfermot School Completion Programme: “Teen-Turn has the potential to really make a difference by exposing our students to the broad spectrum of opportunities available to them and demystifying an industry that they may otherwise have no exposure to.
“In short, the Teen-Turn programme is providing very relevant and practical experience for our post-Junior Cert girls at a very crucial time in their schooling, immediately after they sit their Junior Certificate exams. It is enabling them to explore a world within their reach that they will bring back to school. Their involvement in Teen-Turn will help shape how they approach their Leaving Cert journey and beyond.”
Tech employers and senior employees in other companies with tech-focused departments are being encouraged to sign up for the Teen-Turn initiative. More information can be found here: https://teen-turn.com/.