An estimated 1.22 million people were unemployed in the UK in 2022. This is a decrease from 2020 figures (1.76 million), but still represents a sizeable share of the population that have willingly or unwillingly left the workforce.
Recent research has found that nearly 40% of women particularly in STEM careers are leaving their jobs as compared to 23% of men in the same industries. The most common reasons cited for leaving were unsupportive managers and a lack of promotion opportunities.
A Deloitte Global report which surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries, found that nearly 80% of women said their workloads increased because of the pandemic, whilst 66% reported having more responsibilities at home. So, it’s not a surprise that women account for the majority of career leavers who are now looking to return to work.
In the last few years, returner programmes have been initiated by both private and public sectors to help professionals get back to work after a career break. According to UK government data, £5 million were allocated to the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in the 2017 Spring Budget to support people who had taken career breaks to return to work. The funds were intended to support the implementation of returners programmes in the public sector, and to develop best practice guidelines for the private sector.
Why Businesses Should Hire Returners
According to a report by Reuters, a massive 54 million women’s jobs were eliminated as a result of the pandemic between 2019 and 2020. While some were forced to leave their jobs, others made a choice to leave to take on other life duties. However, over 76% of professional women now want to return to work after a career break. But how does this unique talent pool of returners add value to your business?
Bring in valuable skills and experience
Career returners usually bring several years of industry-knowledge, skills and experience to a role. This allows them to seamlessly integrate into most teams and hit the ground running without much supervision. Jonathan Young, Chief Information Officer at FDM Group says, ‘Despite massive evolution in the tech market, many of the things we do today are easily understandable for returners. For example, a returner will likely understand from memory the effort required to deploy a large enterprise system to live or test – and so “get” the challenges DevOps is designed to fix really quickly.’ The same can be said about other streams and methodologies as well.
Help build diverse teams
Research by McKinsey & Company found that companies that ranked in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile. Diverse teams that include career returners also attract talent from other demographics. For example – 83% of Gen Z candidates consider a company’s DE&I commitment when choosing an employer. Younger workers tend to look beyond the traditional definitions of diversity like ethnic and racial representation to instead focus on diversity as a mix of identities, socio-cultural experiences and ideas.
Hiring returners who typically represent a wide age range of workers also helps counter ageism in the workplace. Women returners further help expand an organisation’s female talent pipeline and can make way for more women in senior roles. This has a positive impact on your gender pay gap.
Fill digital skills gaps
According to a Gartner report, IT executives say that at present talent shortage is the biggest barrier to the adoption of 64% of emerging technologies, more than conventional challenges like security and implementation. With high attrition rates following the COVID- 19 pandemic, businesses are struggling to fill roles that require specialist digital skills. This highlights the need to re-strategise recruitment policies and consider alternative talent sources. Returners are a great pool of talent who are still largely untapped, who can help organisations fill their digital skills gap.
Boost to the economy
An estimated USD 13 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2030 if the right steps are taken now to promote gender-parity improvements and bring more women back into the workforce. This figure alone should encourage organisations to welcome more women into their workforce. Further, by hiring returners, organisation save money in the long run because returners come equipped with the skills and experience that new employees may take several months to learn.
How can the FDM Returners Programme help your business?
According to a study by PWC, three out of five women returning to the workforce will move to a lower skill role. A lower skill role immediately reduces their earnings by a third.
We at FDM recognise the exclusive value that returners bring to businesses. And so, we aim to match their unique skills and experiences to existing talent gaps in the market. Our Returner’s Programme aims to facilitate the return and reintegration of women into the workforce.
Till date, the FDM Returners Programme has helped over 375 people get back to work after a career break, with over 250 people currently enrolled on our programme. Our ‘best of breed’ Returners Programme has a 75% female intake and aims to help people forge long-term careers in tech whilst driving diversity forward in an innovative and evolving sector.
FDM’s Returners programme offers two upskilling pathways – business and technical. Our consultants receive specialist instructor-led and project-based training designed to refresh their existing skills and terminology and equip them with industry-recognised qualifications.
This year we saw the first all-female cohort of consultants complete their training on the FDM Tech Returners Programme. The programme is tailored to help professionals return to work after a career break as mid-senior and lead developers. After 14 weeks of instructor-led training in current and emerging technologies, all of our consultants were successful placed with leading financial services and tech companies.
To qualify for the programme, applicants must have had a minimum of 12 months of career break and 5 years of relevant industry experience. There is no upper limit to the length of the career break, and this can vary significantly from candidate to candidate. The average career breaks are between 3 – 5 years but some of our returners have career gaps of up to 20 years.
Support for Returners
The FDM Return to Work programme offers our consultants much more than just training and experience. In addition to the tech or business training, we offer CV and interview support, mentoring and support programmes. Our expert teams, many of whom are returners themselves, understand the unique challenges that returners face when getting back to work after a break and are there to offer support every step of the way.
Our support programmes include wellbeing and mentoring initiatives like our Care Employee Network that aim to support individuals with parental or caring responsibilities. We have recently welcomed Ukrainian refugees and other displaced women onto the programme, providing ongoing and regular wellbeing check-ins.
Are you looking to close your skills gap and hire some of the best talent the country has to offer? Check out our consultant services or get in touch for more information.