Returnerships – What do employers need to consider?

What are they & who are they for?

Returnerships are a new Government scheme to help get older workers back to work. Government figures revealed that around 630,000 people have left Britain’s jobs market since 2019. Many aged 50+ chose not to return to work after the Covid pandemic. There are three avenues open for returnerships. These are:
  • Skills Bootcamps – These are free and designed to work in partnership with local businesses to help fill vacancies in local areas.
  • Apprenticeships – These are designed to gain on the job training. It can be used by all ages and varying career stages to gain and retain skills or retrain.
  • SWAPs – Sector-based work academy programmes are an opportunity to learn new skills, get skills, and experience of working in a particular industry such as construction or warehouse work.  SWAPs is designed to help job seekers who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseekers allowance(JSA)  or Employment an Support Allowance (ESA)
The government have announced additional funding of £63.2 million to increase the availability of Skills Bootcamps and SWAP. Up to 8,000 more people will benefit from the scheme with the aim of delivering 64,000 training place from 2024. The SWAP’s scheme aims to increase the number of places available and make the programme more accessible creating around 40,000 new SWAP’s starts.

Who are Returnerships for?

Returnerships are aimed at adults over the age of 50 who are retuning to work seeking a career change. Apprenticeships and most Skills Bootcamps are open to everyone. But SWAPs are specifically for job seekers who are claiming either Universal Credit, job seekers allowance (JSA)  or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

The benefits of Returnerships

There are many benefits. Below are just a few:
  • Learning new skills – Learners who are taking part in the programmes may have been out of work or their chosen industry for some time and there will have been many changes. Learners will be trained with current standards bringing old skills and knowledge up to date and arming them with required skills.
  • Support Systems – Many employers will be offering back-to-work programmes that contain some kind of mentorship component. The nominated mentor will be there to help the learner offering ongoing support.
  • Discovering new interests – After being away from work for a while industries and career goals can change. The learner may find themselves interested in something new. In addition, there may be some industries that don’t exist anymore and so the learner can’t return. The Returnership can allow learners to try different roles without committing to having to accept a full time job.
  • Stepping into full-time work – Some Returnerships allow trial periods which means the learner may be able to try before committing.

What employers need to consider

  • Age as a protected characteristic – Under the UK’s Equality Act age is a protected characteristic. Any discrimination at work, directly or indirectly, based on someone’s age is unlawful. Employers should also take extra care not to discriminate during the recruitment process.
  • Claims of harassment – Be careful that no ‘workplace banter’ associated with someone’s age goes too far. This may be seen as harassment if the one of the receiving end finds this offensive. To avoid this, provide equality training to all staff. During this training, highlight relevant policies and procedures to everyone.
  • Health issues – Having an older workforce may mean that HR will have more health issues to deal with. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all their employees.
To find out more information or if you require any advice about returnships in the workplace, get in contact with our team of experts. T: 0330 107 1037 E:

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