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How Returnship Helps Both Employees and Employers: A Win-Win

11 months ago by Gravitas Recruitment Group
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Returnships are a back-to-work programme for individuals who have been out of work for a prolonged period.

They have been particularly associated towards women returning to work after long-term maternity or childcare. Returnships can also be beneficial for individuals who have been out of work for medical reasons or even retirement.

In March 2023, the UK government announced additional funding of £63 million towards ‘returner-ship’ internships, which are specified returnship schemes for adults over the age of 50 to return to work and embark in exciting career ventures. These include apprenticeships, bootcamps and sector-based work academy programmes.

In this blog you will discover:

  • What is a returnship and what does it include?

  • The benefits of returnships for returners and tips to get back into work.

  • The benefits of returnship for employers and how it helps tackle the skills shortage.

What is a returnship and what does it include?

Returnships are similar to an internship but are targeted at a different group of professionals. It is defined as a programme to help individuals relaunch their careers after a break, offering paid, full-time employment with mentorship and support. The great thing about a returnship is that it helps professionals return to work without having to start from the bottom again.

Returnships can look different from one organisation to another. Many have a range of services across training, access to resources and mentorship scheme with an experienced team lead or manager. In terms of length, programmes typically last from 10 weeks to 6 months depending on the organisation, type of role, intensity of the programme, and also acknowledgement of the skills that an individual may already possess.

Some well-known employers that currently offer returnships include:

  • Amazon

  • Microsoft

  • Meta

  • IBM

  • Paypal

Other companies are starting to see the benefit of these back-to-work schemes, especially in industries where there are skills shortages e.g. technology and insurance.

Delving into Amazon’s returnship policy, they have a 16-week paid programme, which includes working on projects in a structured environment and work assignments that will help returners reintegrate into the workforce. On the other hand, Microsoft offers a women-specific scheme under the name ‘Springboard’ which includes training around problem-solving and a continuous support service, through the benefit of a community of returners in the organisation.

The benefits of returnships for returners and tips to get back into work

Returnships have a variety of great benefits for individuals looking to return to work.

Returnships can be unique and specifically tailored to an individual’s current skillset both from a soft and hard skills perspective.

The assessment: There may be an assessment during the interview process so employers can assess current skills and how a returner can help strengthen their business. It can also be used to identify where skills can be grown. The interview and assessment process is an opportunity for the returner to express their desire to expand their skills in a particular area of interest, that they might not have been able to learn in their previous workplace.

What can you expect? Returnships are tailored to your needs, but generally you can learn a good foundation to set you up for getting back into the workforce.

  • Upskill and learn new techniques.

  • Get up to speed on any industry and cultural changes.

  • Learn about regulation updates.

  • Discover new systems and processes.

A common misconception for returners is that they have to apply to entry-level positions as they feel like they must restart their career completely and explore different opportunities. However, returnships will take away this concern, and give individuals a chance to redevelop or re-find their confidence. A restart button doesn’t need to be pressed if an individual already has valuable skills from a previous position.

What’s the biggest benefit? A returnship is about gaining employment. According to nonprofit company, Path Forward, 80% of their surveyed returners were hired, and Amazon say they aim to hire over 90% of their participants.

Tips for returning to work: If you are looking to return to work, you have a number of options to explore.

  • Do your research and see which companies in your industry offer back-to-work programmes.

  • Don’t try to cover up your career break in your CV. Make it easy for a recruiter to understand that you paused your career. You could also list the skills you’ve gained during your break e.g. volunteer work or community organisation.

  • Remember to stay confident. You have nothing to apologise for. Your past work experience is valuable, and so are the skills you gained while away. Consider the time management and project planning skills needed to run a household, care for a relative, or even to travel the world.

Overall, returnships offer a great opportunity for individuals to integrate into a new company that ensures support and transition into full time work.

The benefits of returnship for employers and how it helps tackle the skills shortage

There are many tangible benefits to introducing or developing returnships within a business strategy.

  • Extend your talent pool and tackle the skills shortage.

  • Build a more engaged and satisfied workforce by employing workers who feel they are supported and invested in.

  • Provide better ROI than hiring an apprentice, who will take longer to train.

  • Improve your ED&I agenda to improve productivity, retention, and innovation.

One of the greatest benefits for employers is gaining access to skilled professionals, who after training and mentorship, can help them tackle the growing skills shortage. The Edge Foundation stated, “an estimated 600,000 vacancies in digital technology are costing the UK £63 billion a year”, emphasising the importance of finding new ways to grow digital skills.

Furthermore, a workplace with diverse employees has been shown to offer a progressive environment, where ideas shared across different people with different experiences can bring advantages. Those who return to work can offer fresh perspectives from experiences learnt in previous workplaces, and have the potential to act as a role model to more junior employees.

Alongside this, a diverse workplace environments has been shown to boost productivity and team efficiency, and improve employee retention rates. On contrast, an inclusive agenda and diverse workplace can also be appealing to new employees, benefitting a businesses reputation in such a competitive market.

Find out how we can help

Returnships are a brilliant and exciting opportunity for those returning to work. They hold excellent benefits in boosting confidence and makes the journey back into full-time work a lot easier. Employers then benefit from introducing returnships, as they look to improve the skills shortage, and improve their diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Returner: If you are interested in returning to work, then visit our technology and insurance jobs page to explore potential opportunities or speak to one of our consultants.

Employers: Contact our team to see how we can help advise you on the best hiring strategy for your business.

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