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Apprenticeships and Other Returner Retraining Programme Trends

This is the last of a series of 3 articles for returning professionals on new trends in returner programmes. Read on for trends in Returner Retraining Programmes, and see our previous post for new trends in returnship programmes and new trends in supported hiring.

Are you looking to change career after your career break, maybe for greater job satisfaction, more opportunities or greater flexibility? If you’re prepared to start at a more junior level in a new field, and want to find an employer who values your skills and previous experience, a Returner Retraining Programme could be a great option for you. Retraining is expensive if you’re self-funding, and it can be hard to find your first role. These programmes enable you to gain new qualifications and related work experience, while also receiving a salary while you train.

What are Returner Retraining Programmes?

Returner Retraining Programmes are run by employers and include a combination of paid work and study, rather than being purely a training course. Although some are newly created, they are usually variants of existing company training programmes, originally developed for graduates or career changers, and adapted for and targeted at returners.

The structure of these programmes varies. With some employers, you start in a job from day one, combining work with on-the-job training and study. With other employers, you have an initial 2-3 month training course followed by an 9-24 month work placement. You may also receive coaching or mentoring support, although this is less common than with a returnship or supported hiring.

Some retraining employers are looking for people with specific transferable areas of experience, such as professional services, whereas others have a broader target and are more interested in assessing your potential through your skills and attitudes.

Examples of Returner Retraining Programmes are Softcat Tech Starter Programme, St. James’s Place Academy Career Change Programme and the Investec Return to Work Retraining Programme (also see our other Opportunities).

Growth of Retraining Programmes

Although graduate training programmes have existed for a long time, retraining programmes aimed at returners have only developed in the last few years. Numbers remain low but are steadily growing.

The majority of UK returner retraining programmes to date have been in 2 sectors, tech and investment management. The employers launching these initiatives have skills gaps to fill and are also keen to improve diversity. They’ve starting to target returners as they recognise the value of the transferable skills, business and life experience and maturity that you can bring. They see your potential and expect that your career will accelerate quickly once you’ve finished your training.

Trends in Retraining

Within the UK, the apprenticeship levy has made it attractive for larger employers to develop the retraining programme as an apprenticeship, meaning that many recent programmes are structured this way. To meet the Government criteria, they have to last at least a year, you have one day a week to study with an external training provider, and you receive a recognised qualification at the end.

The combination of skills/diversity drivers and the apprenticeship levy has driven a lot of interest in the concept of returner retraining and we expect the number of initiatives will increase over the next few years, particularly as broader awareness of the returner talent pool continues to grow. As with other returner initiatives, we may also see expansion into other geographical markets.

Read our returner programme success stories here to hear from retraining programme participants themselves about their experiences. One example is Rebecca at St. James’s Place Academy.