21 April 2017:
It started as a whisper. Back in 2008, Goldman Sachs, which originally coined the term returnships, began a high-level, paid internship program for professionals returning to the workforce after an extended absence, with the opportunity for a permanent role. The participants were mostly women who had dropped out to raise children and now wanted to restart their careers.
That whisper is now growing louder. Returnships have become more common; they are a part of the conversation in business and media circles. The U.K. prime minister is even getting in on the act: The day of the country’s 2017 budget announcement, Theresa May unveiled a £5 million (US$6.2 million) fund to identify opportunities for — guess what? — returnships.
iRelaunch, a U.S.-based business specializing in returnships, has identified more than 100 active programs globally, in sectors as diverse as construction, advertising, and financial services.
They’re clearly making a mark: Many corporate heads of diversity, when asked what they’re doing to create senior-level opportunities for women, will reply, “We’ve got this covered — we have a returnship program.” But the situation is not that simple. Both organizations and women seeking to return to the workforce should be aware that these programs aren’t a panacea.
To be sure, there’s good reason such programs are gaining momentum: Returnships are a nicely packaged, labeled, and time-bound way of accessing the huge untapped talent pool of women seeking to relaunch their careers after a break.
The programs tend to run anywhere from 10 weeks to six months, for a group of five to 15 returners. Participants are provided with work experience, coaching, and bespoke training to help them reacclimatize to work. The aim is for “returners” to be offered permanent employment at the end of the program.
Source: Strategy+Business blog