Returner Programme Dictionary
Various different types of returner programme have developed in recent years. To clarify the differences, here’s our official Women Returners Programme Dictionary. At Women Returners, we partner with organisations to offer three types of returner programme: returnships, supported hiring programmes, returner (re)training programmes and any combination. Our current partnership programmes are listed here.
The generic term for an initiative targeted specifically at returning professionals, which provides a supported route back to work. This includes returnships, supported hiring programmes, return-to-work fellowships and returner training programmes.
A professional-level 3-6 month paid placement, specifically targeted at professionals who have taken an extended career break (usually of at least 18 months or 2 years). There is an intent to hire at the end of the placement, provided the programme is successful for both sides. The aim is for at least 80% of participants to gain ongoing roles. With most returnships, particularly with larger organisations, support in the form of mentoring/training/coaching is provided. Most returnships occur annually with a cohort, however they may be ‘rolling returnships’ with rolling applications through the year. Most returnships are with one employer, however there are small numbers of cross-company returnships within a sector.
A recruitment process by which a returner is hired into a permanent position and provided with returner coaching support through the transition. Supported hiring ad-hoc roles are usually open to any applicants, however applications are welcomed from people who have taken a long career break. A Supported Hiring programme involves recruiting for multiple (often ringfenced) roles either starting on a fixed start date, cohort basis or as part of ongoing recruitment on a rolling application basis.
A funded fellowship for returners to research careers, usually in STEM fields. Fellowships are typically for 1-3 years. One longstanding example is the Daphne Jackson Fellowship.
Returner Training Programme (including Return to Practice Programme)
A form of returner programme where people who have taken a long break are retrained into a new or related field or reskilled to return to practice in their previous field. This can be combined with an on-going role at the end of the training or be stand-alone.
Some Returner Programmes include:
An event for organisations to engage, support and attract returning professionals. A Returner Conference is a large-scale form of returner event for a large audience over one or two days. Returner events can also be run for a smaller more targeted audience and/or with a shorter format, such as a launch event or an insight event.
Returner Coaching Programme
A tailored form of coaching to support people returning to work after a career break, ideally addressing both the psychological and the practical challenges, to enable them to be more satisfied and more productive. Offered as part of some returnships and supported hiring programmes. Can be offered for individuals or in groups (e.g. Women Returners “Career Returners Coaching Programme”)
*returnship is a term created and trademarked by Goldman Sachs, 2008 (‘rolling returnship’ as a variant was created by Women Returners, 2020)
**supported hiring is a term created by Women Returners, 2015