The CIPD Parent Returner Programme will provide free mentoring to 150 parents in the region, while 25 employers will receive training to improve their ‘returner’ recruitment policies and practices. Once the pilot is complete the aim is to roll the programme out across the rest of the country.
Returners who’ve been away from work for a year or more will receive tailored support through the CIPD’s Steps Ahead mentoring programme, lasting between six and 12 weeks. The programme aims to help returners secure a job at the same level or higher than the previous one they held.
Steps Ahead mentors – who are HR professionals from the CIPD’s membership network – will use their expertise to help returners build their CVs, create or update their online profiles, succeed at interviews and boost their confidence. The returners will then be supported by CIPD members in a coaching capacity once they’ve secured a job, to ensure a smooth transition back into work.
The 25 employers will be supported to make their recruitment policies more inclusive through a series of workshops and webinars. These will focus on getting employers to review their flexible working arrangements, which can make it easier for parents to balance work and childcare.
The aim is for the initiative to have a knock-on effect on other employers and to increase the number of jobs offered flexibly in the region.
Additionally, returners will be able to network with potential employers, speak to other returners, and attend talks and workshops at a Pregnant Then Screwed live event in the region, planned for March 2020.
The programme will be supported by a number of delivery partners including Timewise, Pregnant Then Screwed, GPS Return and Humber Learning Consortium.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “The problem of getting more returners back into work is twofold. On the one hand returners may be reluctant to put themselves forward for a role if they’ve been out of the job market for a while, even when they’re more than qualified.
“However, we also know that the lack of flexible working arrangements offered by employers can deter people from going back to work or make it practically impossible for them to do so. Supporting employers and individuals alike is the most effective way to change the current situation."
Speaking to HR magazine, CEO and founder of Parental Choice Sarah-Jane Butler said that returner programmes are an opportunity to engage with overlooked talent: "I am a huge fan of such programmes. It's important to remember that this isn't just about mothers, but for any working parent who is having a challenging time. There is a huge wealth of talent out there, and it's really up to employers to get out there and reach them."
She added that employers must appreciate the transferrable skills those returning to work can bring: "When it comes to multitasking you won't find people who are able to juggle this better than working parents. I would encourage HR and employers to think outside of the box on this, and think about those key life skills and broader skills that working parents can bring, rather than focusing on specific qualifications. Now, possibly more than ever, we are going to need to think more widely about how we bring in fresh talent."
There are currently 436,000 people in the UK who are not in work because of family commitments but would like to be.
As well as providing personal fulfilment, improving the employment rate for returners could help to plug skills shortages in a number of sectors and occupations, the CIPD stated. This can also help employers to increase the diversity of their workforces and talent pipelines.