On International Women’s Day 2018, one year after the techUK Returners Hub was launched, members of the Skills & Diversity Council share their experiences with Returners Programmes – their value to companies trying to address skills shortages and improve diversity; their economic impact; and the impact they’ve had on the individuals participating in them. To mark this day, techUK members produced a paper (download link at the bottom of the page) reporting on the success of the Returners’s Hub over the previous year.
Jen Rodvold, Head of Sustainability & Social Value Services at Sopra Steria, who led the development of this paper said:
“The paper gives real-life examples from companies that offer opportunities to returners, from those just starting to those with well-established programmes. Participating Council members with Returners Programmes (or a commitment to hiring returners) report positive experiences and anticipate significant business benefits in the future. It is still early days for most of us, and many of us reported that we need to improve how we find and attract returners so we can continue to develop this talent source. Next, we’ll be looking into further developing the Returners Hub to ensure it is even more useful for companies, supporting organisations (like ELATT and the OU providing training), and returners themselves. So, watch this space and a special thanks to Accenture, CA Technology, CogecoPeer1, ELATT, FDM, Fujitsu and Sopra Steria for their contributions.”
The report contains two case studies with four real life examples of how returner’s programmes can have a dramatically positive impact on the lives of people returning from career breaks. The stories can be seen below.
Yesim Shenoy, Manager, FDM Group
“I took a career break to look after my growing family and then subsequently to care for my aging mother. In total, my career break lasted fifteen years.
Anticipating that coming back to work would be difficult after this length of time, I chose to join a join FDM’s Returners programme as I realised the seven weeks of training it offered would give me the opportunity to refresh my skills and rebuild my confidence. The great thing about joining a returner programme is that you’re not in it on your own. Joining as part of a group, with the support of excellent trainers was really reassuring, and enabled me to adapt back into a business environment. For others thinking of returners programmes, I would encourage you to have an open mind in the first instance. You need to just do it, jump in and take yourself out of your comfort zone and work hard in order to get it back.”
Sheila Marriott, Business Change Project Manager, FDM Group
“After spending 2 years caring for my children and family I had not anticipated how challenging it would be to return to work; I felt like I was a small fish in a big ocean with no real idea what to do next or how to deal with the lack of support.
FDM’s returners programme gave me the opportunity to re-train and restart my career, and provided the ongoing support and training once I started. Having been out of the working world for a while, I felt that I needed to have a strong support structure to help me get back into a career. The program has provided me with the knowledge, confidence and skills to believe in myself and deliver in my role. I would recommend to others that you don’t hesitate in applying, a returners programme is the starting point of you getting your career back on track.”
Janice Everitt, Accenture Break|Through participant
“I applied to a returners programme as I felt that it would be a much better fit for me following a six year career break than applying as an experienced hire. The Accenture programme was particularly appealing as it offers both the training opportunity to bring me back up to speed and the project opportunity to prove (to myself primarily) that I still have a valuable contribution to make.
There have been many benefits of being part of the returners programme so far. The training we have received has been excellent both in terms of content and the knowledge of the faculty. Joining a project team and seeing how I can make a difference and add value has increased my confidence that I am indeed good enough to return to professional life, and last but by no means least, being part of a returners group has provided a fantastic support network in a very short space of time.
My advice to anyone else considering a returners programme would simply be “Go for it!” Just because you have chosen to take a career break definitely doesn’t mean that you no longer have a valuable contribution to make. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it – if you did it in the past then you can most definitely do it now (especially with the fantastic support provided on a programme like Break|Through).”
Anjali Khimasia, Accenture Break|Through participant
“I chose to apply to a returners programme to test out my ability to get back to being at the top of my game after taking time out to be with my kids. I felt that many of the general flexible/part-time roles advertised would not have challenged or excited me enough. I was also very keen to have some training and reassurance that the skills that I’d acquired over the years were still relevant and applicable NOW, despite the changing technological landscape.
I feel excited about the technological revolution and my future career prospects, having had exposure to so many great minds at Accenture. I feel confident that I can add value and can make a positive contribution to projects and I’ve picked up lots of skills and knowledge from the intensive training we have been given. I’ve also met a lot of smart, approachable and lovely individuals. And I have a broader range of topics to take home and discuss with my children!
My advice to anyone thinking about doing the same would be to take the plunge, go for it and embrace the opportunity. There’s little to lose and so much to gain. I am pleased that the climate is changing and that my kids (especially my daughter) will one day be able to take a career break and be welcomed back with open arms.”
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