National Highways has launched the sixth phase of a programme designed to support people wishing to return to work.
A special event, which took place on 23 January at Novotel in Birmingham, celebrated the innovative scheme, which provides greater support and opportunities to those re-entering employment.
National Highways introduced its Returners programme in 2017 – initially with the intention of paving the way for women to return to work in senior roles following career breaks of two years or more.
In the following years, the scheme has been expanded to support all returners regardless of gender and has seen some notable successes.
The programme allows for a six-month ‘returnship’ programme, which provides a more structured introduction back into work, alongside wider benefits and support designed to smooth the adjustment process and develop the skill set of the returner.
There is the opportunity to move to a permanent contract following the completion of the six months, and over 85% of those who have joined the programme have remained with National Highways beyond their initial contract. More than a quarter of those who have joined the programme have since been promoted.
The scheme has already been highly successful, and in 2019 was the recipient of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) Returnships Award.
Elaine Billington, Executive Director of HR and OD at National Highways, was joined at the celebration event on 23 January by other members of National Highways’ senior team, alongside various staff members who have been part of the Returners’ programme in previous years.
Elaine said: “This is a truly pioneering programme which provides opportunities and support to returners, and hearing the personal stories of those who have benefitted from the programme really demonstrated its value.
“The event was a valuable opportunity to celebrate the successes of the programme, which continues to flourish and bring substantial benefits to returners, the company, and road users.”
The event featured candid reflections on the benefits of the programme from several returners, alongside comments from managers who have supported the programme internally.
Lucy Tangen is a senior lawyer at National Highways who was part of the Returners programme two years ago.
She said: “I joined National Highways as a Returner in January 2021, following a career break of nearly five years.
“I was very apprehensive about returning to work after a lengthy break, but I felt very well supported throughout the programme. This was all the more important as I joined at a time of national lockdown when I could have felt isolated, but my team ensured this did not happen.
“I was delighted to be offered a permanent position on completion of the programme and I have since been promoted, meaning that I do not feel that my career break has impeded my career progression.
“I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to return to work and to such a rewarding position following the decision to spend more time with my young family. I would thoroughly recommend the programme to anyone seeking to return to work following a career break.”
More details are here.
(Picture – National Highways)