Saira’s return to the tech industry more complex than most. Fleeing an abusive relationship and seeking asylum in the UK, she joined a ‘Tech Returners’ programme to refresh in coding and rebuild confidence.
Shahzadi Saira Awan joined Tech Returners in October 2021. She moved to the UK from Pakistan in 2018 and applied for refugee asylum in 2019 with her then 2 year old son. She spent much of her early time in England living in temporary accommodation as she sought asylum as a survivor of domestic abuse.
Despite holding a Masters degree in Information Technology, Shahzadi’s childcare responsibilities and visa requirements made it difficult for her to find full-time employment.
Shahzadi said: “My refugee status meant I faced a lot of challenges trying to find a job. I worked in a number of voluntary roles but needed a job with an income to support myself and my son. I knew I had desirable tech skills but opportunities were hard to come by.”
The Tech Returners programme gave Shahzadi the opportunity to get back into the industry. She joined the course, which is free for Returners, in October 2021 and was offered a permanent role as a mid-level software developer at the end of the programme, which came on the same day as the approval of her asylum application to reside in the UK as a permanent resident.
“Tech Returners helped me to refresh my skills and gave me the confidence to go back into the workplace. Since I joined the Booking.com team in June, they have been flexible around my childcare needs and supportive of me in every way. Recently I attended a conference in Amsterdam with my son – the small things make a big difference in making sure I can progress my career.
“It’s fantastic to see so many more people being given the opportunity to join the business through Tech Returners and I’m looking forward to working alongside my fellow cohort.”