A programme that delivers good returns

2 October 2018 | By David Barwell

Image: Piyamas Dulmunsumphun/Dreamstime.com

David Barwell calls on the industry to consider career returner programmes to help tackle gender imbalance and the skills shortage.

Most companies are familiar with internships and work placements to help attract graduate trainees, but it is crucial that industry also supports women and men back into the workplace following career breaks.

Aecom’s returners programme, which welcomed its first group of employees in April, is designed to tap into a new group of potential employees – a group which brings diversity of perspective, a fresh pair of eyes and, in many cases, a wealth of experience.

The programme is aimed at those with mid to senior level experience who have been out of the workplace for a significant period of time and wish to return to work. This break may have been to raise a family, care for a family member or even travel the world.

It offers a paid placement coupled with a structured programme of support including training, coaching and mentoring to help participants reacclimatise to the corporate landscape, build up their confidence and undertake any training or knowledge updates as required. The paid placements are six months long and where possible will lead to a permanent role within the organisation.

There are many reasons why Aecom urges others in the industry to develop similar programmes. For one, it enables firms to target an untapped group of highly qualified and experienced professionals and address the skills gap that exists, particularly at more experienced levels of our industry.

As an industry, we must apply our problem-solving skills to encourage female talent into the engineering profession. At Aecom we strive for a workforce that represents diversity of thought and already have a number of strategies in place to facilitate the hiring and advancement of female talent.

We are pleased with our progress but the job is far from complete. Industry must continue to work together to remove the barriers that can prevent women from reaching key positions and becoming future leaders and decision-makers.

David Barwell is chief executive, UK & Ireland, of Aecom


This is a fantastic idea … do you have further information you could send me direct

Joanne Padgett, 25 October 2018

I'd be impressed if there was some move to keep people in the industry generally, but increasingly I've found as I get older, work is increasingly treated as some kind of 'gig'.

Having being belittled as I was in my last UK employment as a 'freelancer', without a full time role but also expected to fulfill one, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of employers, simply don't see their staff as much more than the means to themselves getting a six-figure income and a nice bonus on top.

It would be nice for once to be considered as something other than a disposable 'resource'.

John, 11 November 2018

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