Women Returners – What are your options?


woman on laptopFor National Women in Engineering Day, Renovo has put together some key considerations for women returners. It has been estimated that approximately 22,000 qualified women have not returned to the engineering sector after a career or maternity break, and these are skills that the industry can’t afford to lose when facing potential skills gaps in the coming years. Not only is the industry losing technical expertise, there are transferrable skills that are often enhanced in many ways during career breaks – but the industry is failing to utilise the links that these women have with their local communities, schools, and other parents/influencers.

Returning to work after raising a family could be an opportunity to pursue a career that gives you flexibility whilst meeting your current priorities. You may look to re-train, start your own business or return to a more flexible role within your field.

Deciding what career to pursue

When you are unclear about what your options are, it is easy to find yourself aimlessly searching through recruitment sites. Start by evaluating your current priorities - these priorities may be different to your previous career. If it’s not an option or your choice to return to the previous workplace, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What are my priorities? Identifying your career priorities is essential in order to become more focussed on your long term objectives. Think about what is important to you in a career – e.g. full time/part time, location, salary
  • What skills do I enjoy the most? How do I want to use these skills?
  • What are my interests, are there opportunities to purse this into a career? Consider your interests outside of work that may influence your work place, e.g. Charity
  • What steps do I need to take to pursue this?
Researching roles and required qualifications

There are a number of ways you can conduct research and explore what qualifications and training may be required in alternative careers.

The National Careers Service website https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ provides advice on the training you will need to do in order to begin your new career, the salary to expect and what the job role includes.

Visit job boards to research jobs, have a look at job descriptions and the specifications that employers require for the types of roles you are interested in.


Networking is one of the most successful ways to find a job. As well as your current network, think about new people that you meet through the school or whilst doing activities with other parents. You may not usually speak about your professional life when meeting other parents as it’s easy to fall into just discussing parenting, but you will be surprised what information you could obtain just by opening discussions on the topic of work. Ask questions, find out a bit more about your new contacts - where do they or their partners work? Gather information and ideas to assist you in your own search.

Our coaches have worked with many parents who over the years have secured new employment opportunities through talking and networking with other parents. This has been achieved through attending playgroups, children’s parties and even conversations at the school gates. Every conversation you have is a great opportunity to obtain information and share ideas.

Return to work schemes / Returnships

More industries and sectors are now offering a return to work programme. A returner programme offers the opportunity for employers to access a largely untapped pool of senior and high-calibre experienced and motivated individuals who have taken an extended career break and are keen to get back to their profession. The programmes offer returners a re-introduction to the workplace and address issues such as confidence as well as updating industry-specific knowledge. To access the full list of organisations visit http://wrpn.womenreturners.com/returnships/


Another popular option is exploring self-employment. Do you have a hobby or an interest that you could make money from? Would this enable you to work more flexibly whilst earning you a living wage? Think carefully about this option; if your hobby is purely a form of escapism or as something that gets you away from your “day job” you may end up losing what you enjoy about it.

Is there a gap in the market that you could explore? Have you found yourself looking for a product or service that doesn’t exist? Do you have a talent that could be a business opportunity? Establishing your own business may allow you to fit work around your family, maybe choosing to work in the early mornings or evenings instead of the usual nine to five. You may not need to commute or travel and have the option to control your workload and choose who you want to work for and what to take on. Remote working can keep your family a central part of your day to day life, whilst also managing to bring in an income using your skills or hobbies.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.co.uk

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