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University College Cork (UCC) and Taste 4 Success Skillnet have announced the return of the Rejuvenate Programme to coincide with this year’s International Women’s Day. Now entering its fifth year, Rejuvenate is designed to upskill women who are returning to the workforce.

According to the most recent Irish census data, the workforce participation rate for women aged between 35 and 55 is 72% – that is 20% lower than for men. Significant numbers of highly educated, experienced, professional women take a career break for care giving reasons or may have experienced redundancy or illness and are planning to return to the workforce when the time is right. However, female ‘returners’ face significant obstacles when they decide to return to paid employment and are often overlooked.

Taste 4 Success Skillnet, in conjunction with UCC’s Food Industry Training Unit and Food Institute, recognises the value of enabling women to return to their careers. This innovative programme supports women returning to the workplace and recognises the key challenges they face. There is the need to update skills and importantly the need to build back up their confidence and reconnect with their professional self.

Fully funded by Taste 4 Success Skillnet and Skillnet Ireland and delivered by UCC’s Dr Joanne Uí Chrualaoich and Caroline Seacy M.A., this bespoke programme will continue to support Ireland’s business, social, and economic growth by maximising female workforce participation.

Speaking about Rejuvenate, Tracey Donnery, Executive Director, Skillnet Ireland said: “At Skillnet Ireland we recognise diversity in the workforce reaps rewards for businesses by driving greater innovation, productivity and growth. Rejuvenate is an innovative programme designed by Taste 4 Success Skillnet and UCC to support women returners to the workforce and offers businesses access to a highly talented pool of experienced individuals. Skillnet Ireland commends Taste 4 Success Skillnet and UCC on the success of the award-winning Rejuvenate programme and many other enterprise-led talent initiatives that they have collaborated on.”

Bridie Corrigan Matthews, Network Director, Taste 4 Success Skillnet added: “Rejuvenate is an exciting programme focused on supporting a high calibre pool of returning female professionals to the workforce. Feedback from participants has been extremely positive and it is wonderful to witness these skilled women regain their confidence and re-engage with their sector. The figures speak for themselves, almost three quarters of the women who took part in the first three Rejuvenate programmes have returned to paid employment.”

Caroline Seacy, University College Cork, commented: “We are delighted that in 2022, our fifth Rejuvenate programme commences on International Women’s Day. Demand for the programme is very strong and we greatly appreciate Taste 4 Success Skillnet and Skillnet Ireland’s ongoing support of this initiative, working with us to upskill professional women and helping them to return to paid employment. Our Returner Insights Series shines a light into the impact Rejuvenate has had on some participants’ lives. Their stories are inspirational.”

Rejuvenate was awarded the Best Diversity and Inclusion Initiative at the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) National Training Awards 2020. In addition, Food Vision 2030 highlighted the importance and value of Rejuvenate. With a national skills shortage and a push for greater gender equality, attracting women back to work would appear to be an obvious part of the solution for employers looking to hire skilled, professional staff.

Visit the Taste 4 Success Skillnet website to learn more about the programme.

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