Professional online network LinkedIn is in the midst of a pilot programme at its Europe, Middle East and Africa headquarters in Dublin aimed at helping those who have taken time out of the workforce to look after children or care for family members to return. The programme is called ReturnIn.

Sharon McCooey, head of LinkedIn Ireland, said that ten people have been recruited through this programme already and the company is putting significant resources behind the initiative. Ms McCooey said the programme was launched in Ireland for three reasons. She said that firstly, the workforce needs skilled workers. LinkedIn saw that many workers had fallen out of the labour market due to family commitments and the company decided that it can help them reconnect with their careers. 

Secondly, LinkedIn wanted to build a team as diverse as the market it serves - and that includes a diversity of ages and family experience. Ms McCooey said she thinks ReturnIn will help the company appeal to older workers and parents. 

Thirdly, LinkedIN saw the issue as an obstacle to economic opportunity and according to Ms McCooey, the company aims to overcome such barriers. She said the company is aware that returning to work can be daunting and complicated, and ReturnIn can offer more specific help.

Ms McCooey also said that LinkedIn was her first job after time off work to look after her very young children and she said she wanted to extend the same opportunity to others who need that same chance. LinkedIn have found a fairly 50-50 gender gap for those using the programme to return to work and Ms McCooey said that all the roles are open to both genders and offers on-going mentoring and technology training.

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