GOING BACK TO WORK AFTER A CAREER BREAK
For people taking career breaks, for whatever reason, reentering the workplace after a period outside of professional life can be intimidating and impractical. Returning to work may require the redevelopment of self confidence, training in new technology or the ability to shift into a new role.
Back2Businessship is designed to provide practical training programmes to people who are seeking to reenter the workplace in the media, marketing and communications sectors. Largely geared toward returning mums, the organisation recently hosted a panel allowing graduates of its programme and their employers to discuss the challenges and successes of their ‘returnships.’
Part of the discussion revolved around countering common myths about returners. Businesses may assume all returning parents want to work part time, which is not the case. Additionally, challenges present themselves in terms of recruitment. Only 8% of advertised jobs are advertised for flexible workers and that drops to 4% in marketing and communications. Convincing employers to consider returners requires a reevaluation of recruitment strategies, Amanda Fone, founder of F1 Recruitment and co-founder of Back2Businessship, says.
Women make up a large portion of the workforce in communications. When women take career breaks, they are taking with them skills and experience that can be useful to businesses upon their return. The House of Commons’ library says 14% of women who take maternity leave every year return to jobs that are under threat. If women were helped back into the workplace, PwC’s research shows that they could add £1.7bn to the economy, annually.
One returner speaking at the event said employers should think differently about hiring people who have had career breaks, “We’re not returners, we’re women or men with quality skills you can use in your business.” Others advise returners to plan out their objectives carefully so that they approach employers with clear goals and roles in mind. Returners should also play up their skills and abilities, rather than the fact that they have taken time off work. Additionally, those concerned about their potential skills gap should be encouraged when they realise, as another speaker at the event did, that “not much had actually changed.”
Employer speakers say working with returners simply requires some flexibility in terms of working hours or practice but that most returners are well-trained, skilled and experienced employees that are a value to the organisation. Flexibility is key to both ensuring an open mind on the part of the employer and to ensuring a successful transition for the returner.
The Back2Businessship programme aims to help women rebuild their confidence and skills and get them work-ready and matched with a potential employer after taking a career break.