Introducing returnship programmes – By HPC’s Ruth McCann

Returnships originated in the USA with companies like PwC, Credit Sussie and Morgan Stanley now taking the lead in the introduction of such programmes like ‘Back to Business’ lasting 10- 12 weeks. Whilst these programmes are accessible for those who have decided to return to work, they are particularly aimed at women who may have took a break to look after their children.

With organsiations predicting a skills shortage in the next year and over 78% of employers reporting recruiting difficulties in the last year, Companies need to look at new and innovative ways to attract talent, with returnship programmes being one option.

Positives to returnship programmes are they help improve diversity within a business as well as strengthen women’s positions as becoming future leaders. These programmes are becoming increasingly important as 56% of women who want to return to work after having children were found to be worried about progression prospects in the workplace and 51% were worried about being barred from the best opportunities. The Equality and Human rights Commission suggested that 50,000 new mums are forced out of work each year, 10% saying they were shut out or forced to leave employment due to poor treatment. Therefore CIPD is currently running a pilot programme for women returners of any profession, called ‘Steps Ahead’ which matches the returner to a HR mentor to aid the return to work process and build confidence.

It is evident that there is a talent pool that has a high calibre of experienced candidates who are motivated and willing; this being a view which goes against the stigma which is often attached to those who have taken career breaks and those who work flexible hours, which is up to 33% of women aged 28-40. Companies should look at addresses this stigma in order to attract candidates that are found to work hard in order to show their commitment to a company.

As an employer you may want to offer a returnship programme to potential staff, which could include induction and training sessions covering company processes, policies and procedures and IT skills, but also focusing on some softer skills such as personal brand management, resilience and networking skills. Returnship programme’s offer companies the opportunity to attract a high calibre of candidates, who are motivated and engaged whilst understanding the company’s vision and more importantly help to rebuild professional confidence in the individual which can help them contribute to an companies success.


If you would like assistance in setting up your own return to work plan or returnship scheme then place contact us at


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