Current claims by government, major IT companies and educational institutions in the UK that IT skills offer enhanced inclusion into the new economy, are attracting women to the field of information systems. The needs of one social group – lone women parents – that IT skills initiatives seek to include will be analyzed in the light of another policy trend, the ‘work life balance’. Using narrative data from a research study of the Cisco Academy network engineer training programme, multiple stakeholder perspectives will be examined in relation to these two initiatives. The narratives presented highlight a systemic paradox; that the design of IT skills development scheme, the policy principle of ‘work life balance’, and the inclusion of lone women parents are simultaneously working in opposition to each other. By critically analyzing the assumptions underpinning IT skills training in the UK, this paper considers the implications of the contradictions revealed for government policy formation, the design of IT skills initiatives, and our understanding of the role of IT skills in the development of society.