Government announces plans for public sector returner schemes

Back to Work


The Government has announced plans for four new public sector initiatives to help people return to work after career breaks.

The Government Equalities Office will be establishing four new returner schemes across the public sector covering social work, allied health professions, teachers and the civil service. The schemes will open for applicants later in the year.

They will be open to women and men, with the aim of giving people who have taken career breaks the opportunity to refresh their skills and build professional networks.

The announcement comes after the Chancellor pledged  a £5 million fund for returner schemes in the Spring budget.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women Anne Milton said: “We want to help people who are looking to get into work, which is why we are going to do more to help people get back into work after a career break.

“Millions of us need to take time out from our careers, but it can be really hard to return. This is bad for the people affected, and the businesses who miss out on their talents. Women in particular find the routes back into employment closed off after taking time out to start a family.

“These returner programmes will make it routine for women to go back to the workplace and get on with their careers. It ultimately should also help us to tackle the gender pay gap. I think it’s important that the public sector leads by example and introduces programmes to support people returning to the workplace.”

The Government Equalities Office will work alongside the Local Government Association, Health Education England and Civil Service HR to establish returner programmes for:

  • 50 Civil Service returners from across the UK in October. Returners will be offered paid placements between six weeks to six months, which will include a bespoke learning and development opportunities.
  • 100 social workers from three regions in November, building on the LGA’s Come Back to Social Work pilot. The placements will include tailored training and development to prepare them to return to practice.
  • 300 allied health professionals from across England, including physiotherapists, podiatrists, dietitians, and radiographers. The placements will include education, re-training and tailored support with the aim of returners ready to practice within six to 12 months and will build on the Come Back to Nursing campaign.
  • teachers. The GEO will work with the Department for Education to explore a returner programme for teachers.

The Government says it will also be working with business groups to identify how to boost further the opportunities for women returning to work.

The Government Equalities Office has also launched a public call for evidence to allow individuals and employers to contribute to its understanding of how best to support people returning to work, particularly within the private sector. The call for evidence will run for eight weeks, concluding on 29 October.

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