Daily Mail

Had a break? You can return in a senior role

- SEARCH for O2 careers or see womenretur­ners.com and pwc.co.uk

A ReTuRnSHiP can help you get back to work after a career break.

Around 427,000 female profession­als want to return to work in the future, but three in five are likely to move into lowerskill­ed or lower- paid roles, says profession­al services firm PwC.

Rebecca Ball, 46, a former architect, says: ‘i took a career break, as the long hours and travel demands of architectu­re did not fit around a family.’

When Rebecca (pictured) tried to return to architectu­re seven years later, she found wages had fallen and working hours were inflexible.

‘Working late was normal, so women with families were not ideal candidates,’ she says.

When she heard about returnship­s — paid internship­s aimed at returners — she attended a Women Returners conference and later applied for a returners’ programme at telecoms firm O2, as it had flexible work and training. After taking part in its 2017 initiative, Rebecca was taken on as a manager in O2’s London infrastruc­ture team.

She says: ‘i am using my experience in aesthetics, constructi­on and contract management to help build relationsh­ips with landlords, city planners and developers. i’m at a level i was at before, and there is potential to exceed that. The returner programme made me realise that my generic skills, such as management, could be used outside my previous sector. A career break is not negative — things you achieved in your break can add to your skills.’ O2’ s career returners programme, open to female and male profession­als, includes training, mentoring and experience in a variety of roles. Women Returners MD Julianne Miles says: ‘The number of returnship­s is increasing. Women Returners lists over 40 organisati­ons that offer programmes or returner support, in sectors including finance, law, science, communicat­ions and healthcare.’ Ann Pickering, HR director at O2, says: ‘ Momentum around returnship­s is building, but business must broaden its attitude to recruiting men and women who are returning from a career break or risk missing out on leadership potential.’

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