We are proud to be the first local authority to have launched a Career Returner Programme as part of our recruitment and retention strategy.
The programme is aimed at professional roles where we have struggled to recruit and is designed to attract experienced candidates with a proven track record in their professional field, who are looking to return to their career after a prolonged break.
The programme was recognised nationally in the Personnel Today 2017 Awards winning the category for Innovation in Recruitment where we were up against fierce competition from high profile organisations including Barclays, DHL and Lloyds Banking.
The programme provides six months paid work experience, as well as coaching and mentoring support. During these six months, successful candidates have access to our internal training events and support to refresh their skills and knowledge, and learn more about local government. At the end of the programme they are eligible to be considered for permanent or temporary roles within Enfield Council.
We have recruited many returners and all successfully transitioned to permanent or fixed-term posts Their previous experience prior to their career break meant they were able to refresh their skills and knowledge quickly.
This has allowed us to fill vacant posts and reduce our reliance on temporary agency workers. The feedback from both the returners and their managers was very positive. Our success has encouraged other local authorities to consider similar initiatives. Meet Yemi, one of our fantastic returners.
We have recently been featured by the BBC recognising our innovative approach to recruitment and talent management: BBC Taking a break? The £1.7bn career gap.
“For the legal department, the Career Returner Programme represents an exciting opportunity for the returners and the department. We're extremely pleased to have welcomed four lawyers, who brought with them a wealth of experience from different sectors. For the existing team, this programme offers the chance to be coaches and mentors and adds to the training culture we already have in place. The quality of the applicants was impressive and I am proud to be part of this unique scheme.”
- Jayne Middleton-Albooye, Head of Legal Services
My career break was taken due to re-locating abroad. The story started when I saw the job advert and I just had the feeling that this is exactly what I need. I felt that the six-month Career Returner Programme will be the perfect opportunity for a re-start in my professional career.
During my job interview the managers were very open and approachable. They knew how to create that professional and friendly atmosphere where I could express myself without feeling under the pressure of a formal interview. I felt that my previous experience was really valued during the interview and the opportunity brought by the Career Returners programme was exactly what I needed to re-start my story on the Social Services side.
My entire learning journey was supported a manager who knew how to challenge and motivate me, by a wonderful buddy and by a great team. Having a mentor from a different area of the organisation was also useful as I could receive advice and support from a different perspective.
During this six-month programme, I had the opportunity to have meetings with our Service Manager and with the Director of Health and Adult Social Care who were genuinely supportive with my development. The coaching sessions dedicated to career returners were a very good environment for all career returners to build relationships, learn from each other and build valuable work networks.
This programme helped me to re-gain skills, confidence and provide fantastic opportunities. I would recommend this programme to anyone who had a career break and wishes to re-start their work journey.
I strongly believe that if today we are talking about a successful story, this is not just my successful story, but our successful story.
After my second child was born, I took the decision to stay at home and spend more time with my family. Once my children were in school, I felt that I had lost my personal identity and wanted to get back into working within the Finance Sector. I knew it would not be easy finding employment that provided sufficient flexibility to balance with my family.
I was attracted to the Enfield Returners Programme as it was a great opportunity to get back into work and to work for a local employer. I was thrilled when I was invited for an interview and I was offered the role of Finance Officer within the companies team. Having previously worked in Finance, I had a lot of skills that I could bring to my role within Enfield Council.
The coaching sessions helped to bring back the confidence that I had lost when I had previously stopped working. I had the full support of 15 other returners as well as my line manager and a mentor.
Completing the Enfield Career Returners Programme has given me the change to fulfil my career ambitions. A year after starting the programme I have started studying the ACCA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant.
Before a seven-year career break to raise my two young children, I was Operations Director with a housing association. When my children were both settled in primary school, I was ready to return to work. However, finding a job that not only matched my experience and expertise but was part-time, flexible and local was very hard! Fortunately, I joined Enfield Council’s award-winning Career Returners Programme which made my return to work a possible, positive and enjoyable experience.
The programme offered paid work experience, training and excellent coaching sessions with like-minded returners who instantly became a support group. The Council’s wonderful HR placed me in the housing department where I could utilise my skills and experience. My very experienced and supportive line manager enabled me to work on different projects, helped me regain my professional confidence and valued the new ideas and practices I developed to improve services we provide to our residents. My knowledgeable mentor helped me navigate the complex world of local government.
I now manage the council’s Temporary Accommodation and Rehousing Services, a part-time permanent role. I love working for Enfield Council, I have a great team who are hardworking and committed to making Enfield a better place and look forward to contributing further to the council’s ambitious plan to end homelessness in the borough.
I took my maternity break from working as a Systems Performance Analyst at British Telecom. My career break was subsequently extended to seven years to look after my three young kids now 7, 5 and 3.
I had been looking to get back to work but when I applied for roles I was always rejected and never received a positive response. I then stumbled over the Career Returner Programme and was thrilled to be accepted and called for an interview.
The return to work program was the best way for me to get back to work. A group of us joined different services within Enfield Council, and this has helped me as the group are very supportive of each other and I have made some great friends. The program includes coaching workshops which prepared me to get back to work. After seven years of being full-time with my family, it was a big change for both me and my family but we have adapted. The returner program also matched each of us to a senior mentor, who we could approach with any issues or advice around work or progression.
Thanks to the mentorship and my senior management team I have been able to express my areas of interest and professional development. I feel very confident now I’m back to work and feel technically competent again, thanks to the latest technologies at ICT in Enfield Council. The flexible working at Enfield has also immensely helped with my work life balance.
I worked as a Education Specialist with UNESCO in Kabul, Afghanistan. Security worsened in Afghanistan and I left for the UK with my husband and three children. It took some time to settle into a new environment.
After three years of focussing on my role of both parent and refugee, I managed a very smooth and fulfilling transition to this new chapter in life. Part of this success was joining Enfield Council in May 2018, through the Returners Programme. The scheme has been an immense support, allowing me to regain my professional identity and contribute to the Strategy and Policy Hub, applying my experience from many years of work for the United Nations.
Since the start of my employment it has allowed me to advance my policy development skills. I have also been given responsibility, leading on several strategy development projects mainly looking at ways to improve health and wellbeing of all residents in Enfield and ensuring that young people are safeguarded from the harms of exploitation and abuse.
In general, it is both exhilarating and stressful to return to a corporate world after being away for a long period of time. In my case, I required a great deal of adaptability not only because I returned to work after a long break but also because there is a massive difference between the context of my work then and now. However together with my passion to promote equality of opportunities for people and the support I received through the returners programme the council enabled me to have a steep learning curve and refine my expertise to improve the welfare of those in need.
My advice to those who are on a break from their work, is not to forget the time spent away from work doesn’t make you a different person. It may dent your confidence but that can be regained very quickly if you continue to believe in yourself as a professional person. My second piece of advice is to keep abreast of the developments in your field of work while you are away, as it will help you transition back to work confidently. Finally, master the art of networking, it will widen your business world and therefore your opportunities.
The ICT Service found it difficult to recruit into technical and specialist roles. Having access to experienced staff via the Career Returner scheme has been a great advantage for the service reducing reliance on external providers to cover roles and enabling us to develop staff and help improve our service. All our career returners have fitted into the service, learning quickly, embedding themselves into teams and coming with the cultural behaviours we required. As part of returning to the workplace it has let us learn from them including both experience in their previous roles, but also providing perspective in what it is like coming back to work. Some of our returners have won awards for their service delivery, been chosen as champions for the service and in all cases become ready to fill permanent roles when they become available. The experience has been positive all round.