Returnships: seen the news? Where would you return to? What job would you love to do?

(34 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 08-Mar-17 13:36:43

As you might have seen, early this morning Mumsnet exclusively broke the news that the government is announcing new funding for 'returnships' in today's budget statement. There will be a new £5 million fund to extend return-to-work schemes to all levels of management and into industries where women are under-represented.

At MN Jobs we've been highlighting returnships for some time - so we'd love to know what you think. Are they a good route back into work for mothers (and indeed fathers) who've taken extended career breaks? Have you done a returnship yourself, or do you know someone who has - and was it effective? If you were returning to work, or changing jobs, where you would want to work - what sorts of careers and industries would you like to see offer returnships?

(And if you are wondering what returnships are, think you might fancy trying one, or are just looking for a new job, have a look at Mumsnet Jobs for returnships and family friendly jobs.)


OP’s posts: |
Ferrisday Wed 08-Mar-17 18:36:47

I first heard about returnships on MN.
I applied to 2 banks. It was all really positive and inspirational even. I got quite far in the process, but no role out of it.

I have to say I was very disappointed that both the banks did not keep in touch with the rejected applicants. Seems really pointless to go to all the trouble and expense, sifting through thousands of applicants, only to lose touch with the talented finalists.

justwanttoweeinpeace Wed 08-Mar-17 19:09:58

I contacted a major retailer and talked them into giving me a returnship (head office role). No concrete job yet but it has done wonders for my confidence and my CV.

I did it entirely off my own back though, when I talk to people about it they look at me like I have grown a second head. Even my lovely DH thought a thirty- something ex department manager interning was a questionable idea.

It's not really known about in clothing / retail. I only decided to punt the idea after listening to a five minute slot in women's hour.

If the government want to support this they need to push really hard, there's a lot to do to get people thinking by and doing something about it.

rightsofwomen Wed 08-Mar-17 21:25:17

5 million won't go far.

Loopytiles Wed 08-Mar-17 22:39:05

Good for you justwanttoweeinpeace!


Antiopa12 Thu 09-Mar-17 05:19:45

I left work 20 years ago to care for my severely disabled son. I have three degrees and a few months ago I applied for a library assistant part time job that fitted around my sons needs. I did not get a look in despite having relevant skills developed in a voluntary capacity elsewhere.
Returnships hopefully will help ex Carers get back into the workforce. However if they still have caring responsibilities and the employer thinks they may need time off for emergencies I am afraid Carers wil still be discriminated against.

Antiopa12 Thu 09-Mar-17 07:08:40

I Cannot return to my previous career as it is knowledge based and a lot of new developments have happened over 20 years.
I would like to have a paid position which has a workplace pension in the local hospital so that I can be there when my son is admitted


Rojak Thu 09-Mar-17 10:30:49

The majority of the employer sponsored returnship programmes have been London-based.

I'd like to see returnships offered outside of the capital - we are talented outside London too

Ifyoubuildit Thu 09-Mar-17 11:59:20

I have done a returnship with an investment bank. I still work at the bank but only about 25% of the people who did the programme (in 2014) are still here.


Because after the programme, and despite rhetoric to the contrary, there is no real flexibility around working hours, there's very little support and the historic culture (i.e. Long hours and being constantly available) remains. Also, the cost of child care and commuting means that you have to earn at least £50k just to break even. Many participants didn't think the financial reward (after taking away those costs) was worth the hassle.

There is still much to do but I suppose the returnships are a starting point!

Ferrisday Thu 09-Mar-17 12:16:33

BaML or MS?

Ferrisday Thu 09-Mar-17 12:19:38

You don't have to answer that, sorry!
They're the two I was on

hatchypomagain Thu 09-Mar-17 12:26:36

I did one through mumsnet - it was clear that they were searching for specific roles and not really looking at all skills. Very little follow up afterwards and all the examples they provided of women that were back at work were full time and smiling about their evening work... not for me

Obsidian77 Thu 09-Mar-17 12:39:53

Rojak you're so right! Lloyds Banking Group are offering a scheme at the mo, I think deadline is March 19th, which has some non-London jobs.
I love the idea of returnships but am sceptical about how genuinely committed companies are to these.
I previously applied to one in which they took over 6 months to process my application then turned me down 2 weeks before the start date. If it had been a yes, I would have struggled to get childcare in place in time. If the whole point of your scheme is to help people who have taken a career break get back into the workplace then the company needs to be more mindful of the practical issues that stop talented and experienced people finding work.
I suppose it's a cheap way to try out experienced hires though anecdotally I hear of very few cases where there are actually real jobs available at the end.

hutchblue Thu 09-Mar-17 12:41:56

I could be wrong but all the 'returnships' seem to be for very big corporates. Banks mostly.

I saw Vodafone has jumped on the wagon recently with a Facebook Ad. It was inundated with furious customers instead in the comments section so not sure if they achieved their aim of reaching people like me, who used to work in the telecoms industry. I couldn't stop reading the irate customers' comments!!

I guess they are the only ones that can carry the cost of bringing Mums back? I mean does it cost a lot? What is the cost? Is it because it's more expensive to have two women working part-time than say a man in his 30s working full-time?

£5 million to me is just token money. It's a drop in the ocean. If the government was really committed to making things work for Mothers, then they would introduce a Scandanavian style system which is funded by the state and would ultimately pay for itself due to the increase in tax receipts they would get.

But they haven't got the balls. It means a societal shift in how we work - so men giving up more of their 5 days a week and going to 4 days and women doing 3 or 4 days as well.

I guess at least it's a start and a nod in the right direction. I think they should go further and legislate that all companies with over 250 staff must make 1 in 10 jobs they create have the ability to job-share so more roles become available.

But if we had child-care sorted from day one, Mums wouldn't need to leave their jobs in the first place.

On the other side of things, I've enjoyed being a stay-at-home Mum for the last 8 years. I am glad in a way I had no options but to stay at home. I did go back to work part-time 3 days a week but recently stopped.

And I think this option should be available to every Mum, to be able to stay at home until their last child goes to school at the age of 5, without having to worry too much what happens to her career.

I know, that's utopia isn't it? But it seems sad to force Mums back to work, unless they want to go. That's the only slight concern I'd have with a Scandi system.

Most Mums I know at the school gate who aren't working, would love to work, but they can't find roles that fit the hours they are available.

Ah, this chesnut that gets ever older... how to have kids, be a mum and return work... and not lose the plot in the process...

starlight36 Thu 09-Mar-17 12:47:11

That is an interesting point about 'returnships'. I think it is brilliant to help women (and men on parental breaks) back into the workplace as often gaps in CVs are a huge hinderance but the fact many people aren't able to resume full time roles isn't being addressed by this initiative.

Like previous posters I wouldn't be able to 'return' back to my previous role in an Investment Bank as whilst I want to return to work I still want to spend some time with my family and not be out of the house from 6:30 am until 9pm five days a week. If returning enabled some form of job-sharing that would be a more attractive proposal for me.

As an initiative for people who are able to work full-time in their field I think it is a great initiative.

ProfYaffle Thu 09-Mar-17 14:32:26

Wow, as someone who only this morning was told I wasn't successful at interview because 'the other candidate has more recent experience' - this is timely!

I've never heard of returnships before. Seems like a reasonable idea though as pp have said, seems heavily weighted towards London based banking jobs.

What can I do about this as an individual? What's the Government funding actually for? Can I approach an employer and say if they take me on there's funding available? What extra support/benefits do the employers get for taking on a returner rather than, for example, an apprentice?

CheerfullyIndifferent Thu 09-Mar-17 15:00:08

I love the idea but I doubt that my industry would take part - and if it did, I suppose it would be heavily London-based, mainly because it is already. I shall be watching with interest though, with my fingers crossed. smile

Graphista Fri 10-Mar-17 02:35:18

£5m is a tiny amount - and note absolutely no explanation how it will be spent - presumably given to companies to 'incentivise' bribe them to take on returners


The kind of companies doing it don't need the money

The 'jobs' are temporary (meaning employees are not entitled to holiday pay, maternity/paternity rights, limited sickness rights, if they're dependant on benefits before/after if they don't get a permanent role it's going to totally mess them up financially)

Are returners paid the same as another employee doing the same job or is it cheap labour for employers like apprenticeships?

What SHOULD be put in place to provide work for returners is:

Discrimination against carers, long term sick, sahp punishable by large fines

Companies of X size required to employ a percentage of returners in permanent roles.

Employers required to employ more workers INSTEAD of making their employees work ridiculous amounts of (often unpaid) overtime.

Better enforcement of that part of nmw law which prevents employees working essentially unpaid overtime.

"A worker must be paid the minimum wage, on average, for the time worked in the pay reference period."

Eg a worker works 50 hours in a week, paid weekly, is paid for only 40 hrs (nmw as per ft contract) that's illegal and the employee should be repaid immediately and if employer caught can be fined.

Where this happens regularly that employer should be told they should be employing more staff!

This would also mean there would be more jobs.

Give employees their weekends back! Most returners can't work because most jobs require eve/weekend work and are completely inflexible on this. While there are certain jobs where it's necessary (retail, leisure, nhs) there are now far too many who now work at weekends unnecessarily (accountancy, publishing, admin, education). If people want to work weekends/Eve that's one thing but many employers are now expecting it regardless of their employees circumstances.

Childcare is a joke in uk, main place I can think of that's worse is USA, most European countries have far better provision. Greater investment, including from employers is needed.

Many jobs with modern technology could easily be done from home. Most admin positions, call handling, market research, accountancy and bookkeeping, financial advice, recruitment co-ordination, most IT jobs) this would also reduce employer overheads eg in terms of office space, utilities and insurance costs. And make returning to work easier to manage, sahp's would need less childcare (no travel time), carers would also need less cover, sick/disabled returners may well have practical adaptations at home which allow them to work which could not be put in place in eg an office with limited space in a high rise.

Flexibility/graduated return rarely happens - partly because the benefits system can't cope with graduated change in pay and I don't see UC being better able to cope with this.

So - my conclusion is - yet more lip service, barely that even as £5m is such a small amount of money.

user1487175389 Fri 10-Mar-17 10:11:24

This is incredibly class-ist. It's all aimed at women who were once 'leaders', took a break to have kids and want to, nay expect return to a high salaried role.

What about women who had kids when they were just in 'a job' and then didn't go back? What about people who never had a chance to get their careers off the ground in the first place? Are MN and the government going to throw us a bone?

Graphista Fri 10-Mar-17 10:23:01

Excellent point user...389

Ifyoubuildit Fri 10-Mar-17 18:30:26

I did a returnship, I wasn't a "leader"

Halfling Fri 10-Mar-17 19:41:18

Any return ship.happy to do it unpaid as well. Applied to so many returnships but not been successful sad I have a masters in business management and have worked in big MNCs, but outside of UK. Struggling big time after taking a six years break to look after my young family.

hutchblue Fri 10-Mar-17 20:53:34

I think user 389 does have a point and it did hit me later after I'd posted here that these return-ships are roles are for higher-achieving women who they want to return.

The government would much rather support women earning 40k plus back to work because they'll get much more tax out of them than say a woman returning at 20k.

I'm not a 'leader' and yet I did earn in the higher tax rate. I could apply for a returnship but I find the way they want me to work too inflexible with family life.

If they would allow more working from home etc and less focus on 'presenteeism' then I'm sure it could work for more of us.

But they still seem to need bums on seats in the office, old style, to prove that we are actually 'working'.

Graphista Fri 10-Mar-17 22:08:01

Hutch yes - employers need to be MUCH more flexible in all areas. At the moment its employees are expected to be jumping when whenever employers click their fingers angry

Loopytiles Sat 11-Mar-17 07:48:21

It's legitimate IMO to target formerly higher earners: women are underrepresented in those jobs.

But as PPs say it should be part of a proper programme of action.

I didn't take a career break largely because of fear of not being able to return to well paid work . The biggest barrier I face to progression - or even just keeping my job now - is the very long working hours of people who are not parents, and of most men who ARE parents. Employers expect a lot of unpaid overtime.

Many SAHMs I know want to woH but their husbands are unwilling to change their hours to do a fair share of parenting.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in