The COVID-19 pandemic created a tremendous upheaval in the global labour market. An estimated 1.22 million people were unemployed in the UK in 2022 for reasons ranging from mass resignations to redundancies and furloughs. Of this number 672,000 were men.
The FDM Returners Programme is rightly proud of helping experienced professionals get back to work after a career break. There are many reasons to take a career break besides childcare. Whilst 75% of our returners have been women who took time out to bring up children, the programme aims to be an inclusive platform to help reintegrate the widest cross-section of people into the workforce.
In this blog we want to focus on two men who joined our Returners programme and whose career breaks resulted from very different circumstances. They speak of their challenges, motivations, and journey back to work with FDM.
Anthony Frankel spent 19 years working as an Infrastructure Projects and Logistics Manager before being made redundant in 2021.
Speaking of his experience of job-hunting following redundancy Anthony said, ‘Having been made redundant at the age of 65 and with a long-standing disability that significantly impairs mobility, I quickly realized that it would be extremely difficult to apply for any significant roles in IT, as employers would invariably favour younger and fitter candidates. Those factors, along with redundancy, don’t tick many boxes!’
Anthony joined FDM in March 2022. After passing the selection tests, FDM provided him with training that included a technical refresh as well as the relevant soft skills and self-confidence to apply for roles in IT.
Speaking of his training Anthony said that the biggest benefits for him were the soft skills that he learnt on the course and the opportunity to learn additional skills in areas like Agile, Scrum and Business Analysis – skills that he expects to become more important in future for aspiring project managers.
Anthony also commended the quality and experience of the FDM trainers and their understanding of the challenges faced by Returners – especially more mature applicants like him.
Earning a salary from Day 1
Anthony says he was pleasantly surprised that after joining FDM he could draw a salary whilst training. ‘The fact that following the training I would get a placement gave me a sense of reassurance during training.’
A guided journey back to work
Anthony is currently working as a technology project manager with an international banking client. FDM have fully supported him on his journey back to work, managing key aspects of his on-boarding, as well as ensuring that the client was aware of his personal circumstances and special needs, such as on-site parking.
Anthony’s story reflects FDM’s commitment to not only help experienced professionals back into the workplace but to provide ongoing support even after their placement at client site.
Advice for potential returners
Anthony encourages any potential returner to consider applying to FDM. He says that provided you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learning the skills that FDM can give you, you can be confident of gaining a successful placement.
Reflecting on his experience with FDM he says that, ‘the most rewarding elements of my time with FDM have been their optimism in my capabilities, the confidence this gave me to work through the training and the opportunity to meet with employers in major sectors who can offer me a new career.’
William Murphy worked as a Project Manager for 12 years before leaving his job to move back home to Ireland to look after his ailing parents. His career break lasted three years.
Despite his extensive experience William found it challenging to find a role because of the gap in his CV. He spent 12 months looking for a job and met with recruitment agencies who told him that his skills were two to three years out of date, and they were more likely to put forward candidates who had recently been in project management roles and had up-to-date experience.
‘My salary and work expectations were getting lower and lower over those 12 months and that was very demotivating for me. So, when FDM happened, it was amazing.’
He attended an Open Morning and after interviewing with the recruitment team, he was accepted into the Returners programme. William recalls that ‘having been out of work for three years and having faced a lot of rejections I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do.’ This is why the conversations with the recruiters gave him the confidence that this was the right opportunity for him.
Coming from a project management background, William had previous experience with PRINCE2 and Business Analysis. However, he shared that his skills were a few years out of date. So, he welcomed the opportunity of doing these courses again and updating himself. ‘Getting upskilled and getting these qualifications was great,’ he said.
But what he found particularly beneficial going into his initial placements was the Professional Skills training he had received. ‘How you comport yourself, how you interact with people, preparing for interviews – these are skills you take for granted when you’re in a job. But when you haven’t done it for a few years, it’s helpful to have that guidance.’
Going into placement
In the last 5 years, William has been in four placements with FDM working in both private and public sectors. His current placement is at a consultancy in the private sector where he has been working as an Engagement Manager for the past year. He is presently working on five different projects – one of which deals with financial crime. William has been engaged with the project from the very beginning and is now looking forward to handing it over to the customer in the next few months.
Flexibility and support with placement
After a successful 6 months on a placement, William had the confidence boost he was looking for. He spoke to us about a new challenge where he could take the learnings and experience he had acquired from this time. FDM supported him by providing options and were instrumental in facilitating that change of roles.
Both William and Anthony are professionals with extensive experience in their respective fields. However, the gaps in their CVs in one instance and recruiters favouring younger applicants in the second proved major barriers to their employment. This is when they joined FDM and were taken on a guided route back to work.
Our Returners Programme is run by professionals, many of whom were returners themselves and understand the unique challenges that they face when trying to get back to work. Anthony believes that ‘the critical additional factor is FDM’s influence and reputation in the marketplace to identify employers who would value my contribution to their company.’
Till date, we have helped over 375 people get back to work after a career break, with over 250 people currently enrolled on our programme. Have you had a career break and looking to get back to work? Apply to the FDM Returners Programme today for a chance to land your next dream role.