The £1.7bn 'career break penalty' for UK economy

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A career break is inevitable for some; whether you’ve just started a family, have had to take time off to care for a loved one or just needed a sabbatical.

However, hiring managers still seem to frown at CV gaps.

In fact, the true cost of the challenges returning to the workplace has sets the UK back an estimated £1.7billion a year in lost economic output – BBC News reports.

And it’s not just the economy that faces a setback.

Three in five professional women, who have taken a care-related career break, will move into a lower skilled or lower paid role than their previous job - reducing their earnings by up to a third, according to research from PwC.

An additional 29,000 will be underemployed - not working as many hours as they would like to. However, if the penalty didn’t exist, each returner would have an additional £4,000 added to their salary, on average.

The multiplier effect of the combined £1.1billion in extra earnings for returners, and subsequent increased spending power would lead to a £1.7billion increase in UK economic output.

That’s why Julianne Miles Co-Founded ‘Women Returners’ to help candidates with a lengthy gap on their CVs back into work.

The former high-level marketing executive for Diageo, Miles, told the BBC: "We were initially driven by the social goal of making sure a career break didn't mean career suicide. I was aware that everything you read at the time was very negative - that if you took a break you couldn't get back into a high-level corporate role. And you could see the reality of that [on the ground] - it was very hard to get back in."

Despite the benefits, only a small percentage of companies offer 'returnships' - placements that range from six weeks to six months, where returners come in at a paid, high level position following a minimum of two years out of work.

Skanska is one of the few offering the opportunity for both women and men to return to work following a career break. Israil Bryan, the firm's Diversity and Social Programme Manager, says running a returnship programme has helped the firm in many ways.

"There is a lack of diversity in the construction industry, and there are skill gaps in some core technical areas like engineering and quantity surveying," she says. “Within Skanska we sought to address both these things - to bring quality people into our business but also people from other industries with core skills that could complement us."

Shared from HR Grapevine

We recently published a news article about return-to-work programmes that help people transition back into the workplace after a career break.