Returning professional internships, otherwise known as 'returnships’, are a new concept in the UK but they're being introduced by Scottish companies to attract highly qualified women back to work. In April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke of her support for returnships and the benefits they can bring to the economy.
STEM industries — involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics—struggle to attract and retain female employees. According to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s national academy of science and letters, three quarters of those who study STEM subjects leave the sector.
Now, women who have taken an extended voluntary career break are being offered returnships to encourage them back and provide role models for younger women considering working in the sector.
The initiative is run by Equate Scotland, a gender equality organisation specialising in STEM, and Prospect, the trade union for professionals. It helps women update their skills and regain their confidence, using web seminars, one-to-one career clinics and networking events.
Fifteen women are already receiving intensive mentoring through the Equate Scotland/Prospect scheme. Half of them have paid placements and one of these is with ScottishPower Renewables.