return to work program australia

If you’ve spent a significant amount of time off on maternity leave or paternity leave (or another extended career break, such as caring responsibilities, illness or a work related injury), returning to work can be a challenge. After all, the jobs market and technologies are evolving at such a rapid pace that even six months off work can significantly hinder your confidence in returning to the workforce.

Thankfully, forward-thinking organisations in Australia are recognising the need to support talented professionals in returning to work after a lengthy absence. Enter returnships.

What is a returnship?

A returnship is a work program designed to support professionals who are looking to restart their careers after an extended absence from the workforce.

Returnship programs usually last between a few weeks and a few months, and typically involve paid work that aligns with a person’s level of experience. During the program, the person returning to work is given additional training and mentorship to help them bring their skills up to scratch and reacquaint themselves with the pace of a modern work environment.

For people transitioning back to work, returnships offer a number of significant benefits:

  • Re-sharpen old skills and learn new ones
  • Begin building up a new network
  • Get a foot in the door at a reputable company
  • Acquire new experience to add to your resume

In this way, returnships are similar to internships, except they don’t require you to start back at the bottom of the totem pole.

Companies with returnship programs in Australia

Considering returning to work after an extended break? These companies have dedicated programs to help employees do just that:

  • Deloitte

The Deloitte Return to Work program is designed to support professionals in returning to work after a career break. The program is open to men and women, however, Return to Work is mainly aimed at helping women who have taken a career break transition back into the workplace. The program is run over 24 weeks in Melbourne or Sydney with the aim of leading to a permanent or contract role with Deloitte.

  • Accenture

At Accenture, the Career Reboot program at Accenture offers an opportunity for professionals to restart their careers. It’s specifically designed to provide support to women who want to professionally reintegrate themselves into the workforce and resume their corporate career.

  • EY

The EY Reconnect Program is a program for female career returners, providing a bridge for professionals re-entering the workplace after an extended career break. The program runs four days a week over 12 weeks. It offers a supported route back into work with induction, coaching and mentoring for professionals who have had a career break of between two and 10 years.

  • Macquarie Group

Macquarie’s Returner Program offers professionals the opportunity to reintegrate into the workforce following a career break. The program provides eligible applicants with access to support and training during the first 20 weeks of employment. After induction, returners work closely with colleagues on projects that match their skills and experience.

Flourish with a return to work program

Returning to work after an extended break can be a transformative experience that reignites your career, revitalises your skills and fosters new connections and personal growth.

These innovative return to work programs provide a gradual and supportive path to reintegrate you into your chosen business area, bridging the gap between current skills and industry advancements. Returnships provide a unique opportunity to refresh and update one's knowledge while gaining practical experience in a real work setting. They offer mentorship, training, and a chance to rebuild professional networks, boosting confidence and reestablishing connections within the industry.

Moreover, returnships allow you to demonstrate your capabilities and increase your chances of securing a permanent position. By enabling a smooth and well-supported transition, returnships empower you to regain your professional momentum, achieve personal growth, and unlock new career opportunities in a supportive environment.

If you are seeking further information on how to re-enter the workforce after a break, connecting with your prospective employer can be invaluable. They can provide insights into the current dynamics of your desired business area, helping you understand the latest trends and requirements. By engaging in conversations with potential employers, you can gain a deeper understanding of their expectations and tailor your efforts accordingly. This direct interaction allows you to showcase your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and commitment to professional development. Ultimately, reaching out to employers can provide you with valuable guidance and support as you navigate the path of returning to work.

Related: How to explain gaps in your CV

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