Frank Recruitment Group has been shortlisted for E-Skills Initiative of the Year at this year’s Women in IT Awards, which takes place in London on 31 January. The nomination recognises the recruitment agency’s successful return-to-work initiative which was supported by Microsoft.

Frank Recruitment Group is the only recruitment agency nominated for the E-Skills Initiative of the Year award, which speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to gender equality and promoting equal opportunities in the tech sector.

The Returnship Programme offered a 16-week paid return-to-work scheme to retail, accounting, procurement and customer services professionals with enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) experience who were looking to return to work following a career break.

Starting in September 2017, the Nigel Frank Returnship Programme included free Microsoft Dynamics 365 training, created by Microsoft, as well as hands-on, practical on-site training with a key Microsoft Gold partner.

To qualify for the programme, participants career breaks must have lasted approximately two years. For Iram Iqbal, who completed the course, she took time off after giving birth to focus on her family but struggled to get back into work when she decided the time was right to return.

“After becoming a parent for the second time, my career break lasted four years. When my son turned two-years-old, I told myself it was time to get back,” said Iram. “I was keen on returning to work but, even with great exposure and work experience, the gap on my resume made it difficult.”

Iram discovered the opportunity while updating her LinkedIn profile: “Technology Management was listed as a participating Microsoft Partner in the programme,” she said. “The combination of the organisations involved resonated with me and I just went for it.”

Returning to work after a career break can bring some challenges with it, especially if you are coming back after raising a young family. Having young children can bring with it commitments such as school meetings and attending performances. This is something Iram discovered first hand.

“Returning to work can be extremely challenging, especially emotionally as you try to achieve a work/life balance,” she said. “In my case, Technology Management has been brilliant and has ensured that any roadblock, be it my son falling ill on the second day of the course or accommodating flexi time to attend my daughter’s school activities, was sorted in the best possible way.

“Frank Recruitment Group ensured I was settling in and acted as a great guide. They made sure that the transition from a full-time mom into full-time work was well supported.

“Without that support and understanding, I may not have been able to show the degree of potential in such a short span which has resulted in me being appointed as a Project Manager at Technology Management.”

Frank Recruitment Group will be running the Returnship Programme again in 2018, with an emphasis on Salesforce skills.

“We’re thrilled at the success of the Returnship Programme,” said Georgina Casas, Employee Brand Director at Frank Recruitment Group. “The success of Iram and the others on the course, as well as the fantastic reaction from Microsoft and the Gold Partner organisations we have worked with, means we will be running a Returnship Programme in 2018 too. More details on this will be announced in due course.

“It is our ambition to make it easier for all technology professionals to find and enjoy work, regardless of age or if they have taken a career break. Our hope is that initiatives such as this will go some way towards improving employment opportunities in the technology sector.”

The Women in IT Awards is the world’s largest event dedicated to tackling the technology industry’s gender imbalance by showcasing the achievements and innovation of women in the technology industry.