Innovative academy trains women for a future in tech

  • Posted on March 2, 2017

When someone asks me what I like most about my job, my answer is: making people happy.

When I build strong relationships with our hiring managers, fully understand their needs and requirements, and successfully source and hire the right candidate for the right role - it is an unbeatable feeling!

But, it’s not always that easy. The right candidate is not always available, ready and waiting for you. And this was the case when it came to hiring for our Sardinian Delivery Center, which opened in 2014.

The sourcing process had been difficult since launch: the island of Sardinia is a location mainly for tourism and very few IT companies invest there, so we didn’t have competitors from which we could hunt for IT talent. It was even more difficult to attract women who had the right skills and competencies to fit our roles. Few women applied, and even fewer passed the selection interviews due to their lack of technical skills.

"Sara, we fail to hire women technologists because they do not exist in Sardinia..." was something I heard from my colleagues time and time again.

That’s when we began to address this challenge differently:

“There are so many smart women in Sardinia, but they do not have the right technical skills. Why don’t we fill these gaps?” That’s what we set out to do.

We worked with an external vendor, Work Wide Women, which specialized in Information Communication Technology (ICT) training for women. We also asked our delivery center leads what our needs were to create a training program that would bridge the technology skills gap.

We selected 10 women who had previously applied to Avanade and were not offered the role based on their existing competencies, but were very motivated and committed to our brand. We then offered them a 120 hour technology training course that could give them the opportunity to learn new skills and ultimately join Avanade full time.

We started in May 2016 with an e-learning course. The majority of these women heard words like JavaScript, SQL language, inner join-left join, for the very first time! Every week I received reports from the teachers about how the trainees were doing, difficulties that they were facing, but more importantly, that these women where amazingly hard workers and were putting their heart into learning these new skills.

At the end of the training these women were interviewed again during our standard assessment day like any other candidates. They successfully passed the recruitment process!

It was hard work. We were aware that 120 hours couldn’t cover all the competencies required and there was more work to be done during their 6 months internship period, which included tutoring from their delivery center colleagues.

In January most of the women from the program have completed their internship program and have been hired as full time Avanade employees. Meeting them again in our “Go Orange” onboarding program was so satisfying and has energized our team to plan and deliver a second edition of our academy!

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