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The Pros & Cons of Returnship Programs, and what are your alternatives?

Re-entering the workforce after a career break can feel like stepping into unfamiliar territory. Whether you took time off to raise children, care for a loved one, or pursue personal endeavours, the decision to return to work is often accompanied by a mix of excitement and apprehension.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of return to work programs, examining their pros and cons, and also explore alternative options available to you.

Return to work programs, commonly known as returnships, have gained popularity in recent years as a pathway for individuals, particularly women, to transition back into the workforce after an extended break.

These programs typically offer short-term employment opportunities, often lasting a few months to a year, and occasionally the offer of permanent employment at the end of the returnship. Regardless of the length, they all share the same goals of refreshing skills, building confidence, and re-establishing professional networks.

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Pros of Return to Work Programs:

  1. Skill Refreshment: Returnships provide a structured environment for participants to update their skills and knowledge, bridging the gap between their previous experience and current industry standards.

  2. Professional Reintegration: Returning to work can be daunting, but returnship programs offer a supportive environment where individuals can ease back into their careers, gaining confidence and momentum along the way.

  3. Networking Opportunities: Building and maintaining professional connections is crucial for career advancement. Returnships offer participants the chance to expand their networks, potentially leading to future job opportunities.

  4. Potential Job Offers: Many returnship programs serve as a pipeline for permanent employment, with companies often hiring participants who show commitment, value and a strong cultural fit during the program.

Cons of Return to Work Programs:

  1. Financial Considerations: Returnships usually offer lower compensation compared to previous roles or standard entry-level positions, which can be a deterrent for some individuals, especially those with financial obligations.

  2. Limited Availability: While return to work programs are becoming more prevalent, they may not be widely accessible across all industries or geographic locations, limiting options for some returning professionals.

  3. Stigma and Bias: Despite progress, biases against individuals re-entering the workforce after a career break still exist. Some may encounter challenges related to ageism, perceived skill depreciation, or gaps in their resume.

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Exploring Alternative Options:

While return to work programs can be beneficial for many, they are not the only pathway to re-joining the workforce. You may also consider the following alternatives:

  1. Freelancing or Consulting: Offering flexibility and autonomy, freelancing or consulting allows individuals to use their experience on their own terms, accommodating varying schedules and preferences.

  2. Upskilling and Education: Investing in further education or skills development through online courses, workshops, or certifications can enhance marketability and open doors to new career opportunities.

  3. Entrepreneurship: For those with a passion for innovation and leadership, starting a business or pursuing entrepreneurship ventures can provide a platform for creativity and autonomy. This is not ‘we’ll give it a go’ option. Being self-employed is hard and takes a huge amount of commitment and hard-work, so be sure that it is definitely something you want to do before going down this route.

Returning to work after a career break is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of available options and individual circumstances.

While return to work programs offer a structured pathway for reintegration, exploring alternative options can provide flexibility and autonomy to tailor the return-to-work journey according to personal goals and aspirations.

By understanding the pros and cons of returnship programs and exploring other avenues, you can navigate your return to the workforce with confidence and resilience, unlocking new opportunities for professional growth and fulfilment.

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