As part of our day to day work we speak to hundreds of businesses about returner talent and the work we do to enable returners into and through careers in technology, but a common theme from those conversations is that whilst businesses understand what we do in terms of our training and delivery and our end goal, they don’t always understand exactly what a returner is.
So let’s backtrack a little and discuss just what a returner is, always a good place to start, the dictionary definition!
A pretty accurate definition there, a returner is an individual who is coming back to work after some time away, in the case of our business these individuals are returning to or looking to enter a career in technology, but what else do we know about our returners that helps define who they are and debunk some myths in the process:
We found a further definition which said
‘ A returner is someone who returns to work after a period when they did not work, especially a woman who returns after having children '
And this definition is also accurate, statistically our returners are more likely to be women, in fact over 80% of our cohorts have been female, this isn’t intentional as a business, our cohorts are open to all and positively celebrate diversity, but the reality is that more women are returners having taken a break to have children or for other family or care reasons.
Research conducted by Tech Returners and The University of Manchester Business School in 2019 revealed that there are 3,948 women with the relevant skills and desire to return to tech but who face barriers in doing so, in spite of all the amazing returner talent benefits we’ve outlined above,
97% of employers admitted their tech teams lack diversity but 47% also admitted they look at CV gaps unfavourably and 72% had no formal approach to recruiting returner talent.
The problem is twofold there’s a lack of understanding about what a returner is and what they can bring to a business and there’s a gap, not the digital skills gap you’re forever hearing about but a gap in the thinking of businesses about how to access the tech talent they need.