New returnship programme launches – and it’s not just for the financial sector

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The first UK ‘returnship’ programme outside the financial sector, helping professionals return to work after a long career break, has been launched and is seeking applicants.

Thames Tideway Tunnel, a major project to clean up the River Thames in London, is inviting applications for the inaugural Tideway Returner Programme from people who have been out of the workforce for two years or more.

The Programme will start in April and involves 12-week paid assignments for up to six returners. It will be facilitated by Women Returners, who specialise in helping professional women relaunch their careers.

The project has designed roles for returners with backgrounds in areas ranging from civil engineering, project management, architecture, business planning, commercial law, public relations and investment banking to corporate finance. The available opportunities are in Business Planning, Legal, Stakeholder Engagement, Operations Management, Asset Management and Financial Modelling.

Creating a gender-balanced workforce

Julie Thornton, Head of HR at Thames Tideway Tunnel, said: “When I heard about the returnship concept in early 2014, I realised that it would be an excellent addition to our existing initiatives to create a gender-balanced workforce and would help to build a further legacy for this ground-breaking project.

“We fully appreciate the value and potential of bringing back in former professionals to contribute to one of Europe’s largest construction projects.

“As we appreciate that returners benefit from a transition period to get back up to speed, the Programme also includes coaching support from Women Returners together with an internal mentor.

“We are very happy to help people to balance their work with other areas of their life and have many examples in the organisation of people working flexibly.”

Julianne Miles, Director and Co-founder of Women Returners, stated: “We are delighted to be partnering with Thames Tideway Tunnel on the Tideway Returner Programme, showing UK business that people can come back from a career break into productive and vital roles.  The programme offers the organisation access to a largely untapped pool of high-calibre experienced and motivated women and gets over potential ‘CV Gap’ concerns of hiring managers about their lack of recent experience.”

Katerina Gould, Director and Co-founder of Women Returners, added: “The Tideway Returner Programme will not only provide London with a great environmental legacy but will also enable highly qualified and skilled individuals to get back to the careers they feared might be lost.  Returnship programmes such as this are a win:win.  Businesses can refill their talent pipeline and bring forward more female leaders; returners benefit from a supported pathway back to work, gaining valuable work experience and rebuilding their professional confidence.”

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