Back to work


There are mess of things on a CV that can put off recruiters.

Having a gap on your work history shouldn’t be one of them – but the problems faced by women returning to the workplace costs the UK an estimated £1.7bn a year in ruined economic output.

So what can be done to address this black cavern?

Julianne Miles co-founded Women Returners to connect firms with seekers who want to get back into work but have a lengthy gap on their CV.

Opposite number an internship, a “returnship” is a placement at a company ranging from six weeks to six months. Where it departs is that returners come in at a paid, high level position go a minimum of two years out of the workplace.

Formerly a high-level marketing executive for Diageo, Julianne resumed a four-year career break when her children were born beforehand retraining as a psychologist. Her initial goal for Women Returners was to counteract the denying stereotypes surrounding career breaks.

“We were initially driven by the common goal of making sure a career break didn’t mean trade suicide. I was aware that everything you read at the time was very negating – that if you took a break you couldn’t get back into a high-level corporate task. And you could see the reality of that [on the ground] – it was very hard to get back in.”

‘Dash break penalty’

She points out that the “career break penalty” means it’s not only the economy that is getting a raw deal.

Almost half a million virtuoso women who are currently on care-related career breaks are likely to come privately to work in the future. Of those, three in five will move into a discredit skilled or lower paid role than the job they had before, abridging their earnings by up to a third, according to PwC research last year.

A beyond 29,000 will be underemployed – not working as many hours as they resolve like to. If this penalty was addressed it would add an average of £4,000 on to the earnings of each returner.

But Women Returners is not a charitable initiative. Julianne work outs the hiring rate following each programme is 50-85% and points out the coteries involved gain access to an untapped pool of talent.

What’s sundry, the multiplier effect of their combined £1.1bn in extra earnings and extended spending power would lead to a £1.7bn increase in UK economic production.

Yet only a tiny fraction of companies offer these schemes.

Tania Ash has fitting joined Enfield Council’s six-month returnship programme as a web architect. After 20 years available in software development for private companies, she took two years out to care for her ancestor, who had been diagnosed with dementia, and look after her baby daughter.

“I possess a business background and when I decided to continue my career I was looking for an occasion with flexible working hours,” she says. “It was really hard to obtain that in the IT industry because it’s very rapid, so this was a great occasion for me to return to the industry.”

‘Good for both sides’

And not all returners are sitting behind a desk. Arrange Kate Young, 37, took a seven-year career break more willingly than starting her placement at Skanska last year when her younger lass started school. She has since become a senior engineer at the company.

“The Skanska job was the prime to hit all the boxes. It was part-time, location-wise it was flexible and it was relevant to my engineering skills,” she reveals. “I had heard some horror stories from people with big rifts in their CV where the initial [recruitment] filter just puts them set in the bin.”

But she says a returnship is “good for both sides”.

“Going in for three months on a returnship run-downs people do not expect you to immediately get there, and they know you have your ancestors life. You know that if it’s a disaster you can think, ‘well, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t in the planning stages unemployed right now,’ so it takes the pressure off.”

The Skanska returnship is open to both better halves and men who have had a career break. Israil Bryan, the firm’s diversity and societal programme manager, says running a returnship programme has helped Skanska elucidate many problems.

“There is a lack of diversity in the construction industry, and there are strength gaps in some core technical areas like engineering and total surveying,” she says.

“Within Skanska we sought to address both these items – to bring quality people into our business but also people from other industries with centre skills that could complement us.”

Change of attitude

There are profuse reasons why people find themselves taking a career break.

Natalie Lang, 49, left-hand her 20-year career in financial services to set up her own childcare business. When she unambiguous to return to the City, recruiters were reluctant to take her on.

“When I started looking for functions and I was dealing with recruiters, they were very reluctant to put my CV send on when there were other candidates already doing the job, because they felt they had a outstrip chance of getting the position,” she says.

But Natalie found financial secondments firm Fidelity’s returner programme online, and now has a permanent role at the cast as a business risk manager.

While Julianne Miles’s Women Returners think up is still relatively small-scale, it is undeniably gaining momentum. The number of protocols offered have grown from three in 2014 to 27 advertised for 2017 so far.

In the March 2017 Budget, the government allocated £5m for “return to guide” schemes. But what our society should aim for, Julianne says, is for returnships to be proper less significant, as the attitude towards career breaks becomes numerous accepting.

“It’s not just about returners – it’s about opening the minds of companions to people who have had career breaks more broadly.

“I would groove on to see returnships continue because it reduces risks on both sides but we are also recall c raising these role models into organisations. There are only a paltry percentage of people in organisations that have taken career slits so people can see them and think, ‘why are we prejudiced against people who have infatuated career breaks?'”

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