D-BRIEF – Employment & Pensions Blog: Returnership Programme

Following the announcement of the new Returnership Programme in the Spring 2023 Budget which is targeted at over 50s, the Government has now published employer guidance on how they can help individuals return to work.

What is a returnership programme?

Returnership programmes target people returning to work after a break. The ‘returner’ can be an individual or groups of returners, who are returning from time out of work due to a various number of reasons including childcare, caring responsibilities, health, relocation, or just wanting a career change.

Whatever their reason for taking time out of work, returnership programmes help workplaces effectively and efficiently bring people back to work after a long break.

Returnerships are essentially back-to-work programmes, with successful programmes already existing for people returning to work after having a career break to care for children.   Programmes can last from a couple of weeks to a few months and are run like internships, providing the returner with training, mentoring, skills, confidence, and experience to support them back into the workplace.

The new Returnerships

According to the Office for National Statistics, between April and June 2022, the number of people aged 65 years and over in employment increased by a record 173,000 to 1.468 million. As life expectancy increases, people are likely to dip in and out of employment which will require employers to be more flexible in order to support them.

The spring budget has introduced a new returnership programme targeted at the over 50s which brings together three of the Government’s existing programmes; Skills Bootcamps, Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes and Apprenticeships. The programme focuses on flexibility and previous experience to support better access to re-training and allow workers of all ages to engage with the opportunities of a second career.

The Guidance

The guidance looks at returner programmes involving paid work, on both a temporary and permanent basis which will give people a supported route back to employment. The guidance applies to organisations in all sectors and of all size and covers:

  • Tips for helping people return to work – it looks at different ways to bring a returner into your organisation, things to consider to make the returner programme successful and best recruitment practices to encourage returners applying
  • The benefits to an organisation from supporting returners – examples include accessing a high-calibre talent pool of experienced people, reducing skills shortages, creating a more inclusive workplace and achieving a cost-effective recruitment process.
  • Designing a return-to-work programme – considering the format of the programme, the logistics of setting it up, who will be involved, which programme is best suited to your organisation and the need of a support network.
  • Engaging and onboarding returners – through launching effective recruitment campaigns, reviewing your job advertisements, improving your assessment and feedback process and looking at your approach for onboarding returners.
  • Delivering the returner programme – by reviewing the support and training provided for returners, the employment opportunities the organisation can offer, considering how to assess the scheme, finding networks or partners to support the scheme and developing an evaluation plan to gather programme insights.

This is positive news for people over 50 who want to get back to work and should result in older workers being supported with a more focused route back to work, into roles they feel are right for them. It is also positive news for employers as it should fill skills gaps and help organisations diversify their workforces.

If you would like more information on implementing a returnership programme or require any employment/recruitment advice, please contact a member of our Employment Team.

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