Earlier this year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on the number of women in the workforce in 2022. The data indicates that almost 76 million women were part of the U.S. labor force in 2022, equaling 56.8 percent of the workforce—more than 75 percent of the women between the ages of 25 and 44 held jobs.
Historically, it has been women who have stepped away from their careers to care for children, aging parents, or other related reasons. Although men have stepped up and, in many cases, have become the primary family caregiver, the responsibility continues to fall principally on women. The Center for American Progress reports a continuing gender gap with women not working or working part-time due to childcare or other family reasons. Regardless of their age or parental status, women were five to eight times as likely to experience a caregiving demand that impacted their employment in 2022.
This has spawned a new opportunity for women and men away from the workforce to reenter—returnships. Regardless of gender, returnships offer an opportunity for several groups—caregivers, parents, or employees who have left the workforce for personal or medical reasons—to reenter and catch up on skills they may not have used for several years.
Returnships operate much like internships, but target individuals who have stepped away from their careers. Most programs are geared toward individuals who have been out of the workforce for at least 2 years and have 5 or more years of experience. Those interested in the program are often asked to submit an application and undergo an interview process. Programs last anywhere from 2 to 3 months, with some running as long as 6 months, and are meant for returning workers to quickly ramp up their skill set and reintroduce them to the workplace.
Like internships, returnships allow employers to increase their talent pool while gaining a window into a potential hire’s talents, attitudes, and fit in the organization. They also allow employers to increase workplace diversity by tapping into previously unused talent pools. Returnships also offer developmental activities for current employees by acting as job coaches and mentors, potentially increasing employee engagement and job satisfaction.
As we continue to face recruiting challenges, consider adding a returnship program to your organization. Adding experienced, talented individuals to your organization is a win-win for all!