Helping women return to work

Siobhan O'Neill of Cork City Partnership, left, course co-ordinator of PEIL Growing Your Potential with Marie Williams from Ballincollig, centre who took part in the course and Angela Power, practice and marketing manager at Egan's Hearing in Cork city. (Picture: David Keane)

Applications are being invited for the next round of the ‘Growing Your Potential’ programme, which has helped more than 170 women so far and is now in its fifth year.

Cork City Partnership revealed over 50% of participants in its course have gone on to find work after completing the programme, with the remainder gaining new skills to help them further their careers when the time is right.

The free course is aimed at women in Cork who may be working in the home or caring for relatives, who aren’t in receipt of a jobseeker payment and may be thinking of a change. The curriculum is designed to empower women to achieve economic independence and the timetable consists of two-hour online sessions, three mornings per week.

As well as training in a range of topics useful for restarting their career, participants benefit from sharing their experiences and getting to know their fellow students.

Course leader, Siobhán O’Neill says she’s always inspired by the students.

“These women often don’t know what to expect and coming to us could be well outside their comfort zone, but I always tell them to listen to what our past students say – this could be the best thing they ever do for themselves and we’re so proud to be able to say more than half of our participants find work afterwards – it’s a good sign we’re on the right track”


With a background in Biochemistry, Edel Finucane feels that the course afforded her the time to pause and think about what she needed out of a job. She says: “I have been out of the workforce for over ten years and I wanted a more holistic approach to a new career that was a good fit for me. This course allowed me to reflect in a safe place where you can voice your opinion and concerns – in good company with like-minded women.”

Egan’s Hearing Centre on Lavitt’s Quay in Cork city is among the businesses which have recruited past participants. Practice/Marketing Manager Angela Power-Leach, says women returning to the workforce are hugely valuable.

“Organisations with an intergenerational workforce see the benefits for both older and younger staff, including opportunities for mentoring and an exchange of skills. We know women returners have skills, energy, judgement and competence that make them useful to the world of employment”.


Chief Executive at Cork City Partnership Brenda Cahill congratulated Siobhan and the team for reaching the milestone of five years running the course.

“Growing Your Potential has been a real success story for the course leaders, the Partnership as a whole and most importantly the women who’ve signed up to take part. We know this is something that has a positive impact on people’s lives and that will last a lifetime. I look forward to welcoming the next group of participants in February”.


An initiative by Cork City Partnership supported by PEIL and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, anyone interested in signing up can visit for more information, e-mail or telephone 021-4302310.