UK-based digital consultancy DXW Digital has launched a returners’ programme to help people that have been out of work for two or more years.

The returners’ programme comes at a time when the UK continues to face a digital skills talent shortage. This is often seen as a problem at the STEM level, but there is also a challenge for experienced people to re-enter the workplace.

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In fact, figures from ONS (Office for National Statistics) found there to be 1.9 million economically inactive women, many with professional or managerial experience, at the end of 2017.

Although DXW is a private business, it works very close with the public sector and sees firsthand the value of having a wide talent pool.

“Just in the industry, I know a few of my peers who have had similar experiences, particularly in returning after a second child and having a lot of difficulty just sort of reintegrating and getting back to work,” David Mann, managing director at DXW tells Techworld.

“Certainly for DXW, we’re a lot smaller than a lot of companies that run these kinds of programmes but I didn’t feel that was a reason not to do it. I think as a smaller business there are advantages to offering returners’ programmes like this, because it gives us access to a really wide talent pool of potentially very experienced, professional people who’ve got a lot to offer,” he adds.

The programme is currently available at DXW’s London offices, and will begin with one or two people for three to six months depending on the role, but this will include client-facing and internal positions.

According to DXW, the early applications include people with backgrounds as project managers, software developers and more.

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How it works

“If a returner joins, they’re assigned a mentor on the first day and it’ll be someone who works in the same field, so if it’s someone coming into a client-facing role or a project then it’ll be with someone within that project so they’ll be able to support them day-to-day,” Mann explains.

“Having the right support and mentorship is a really important part of the programme, so the way that we’ve structured ourselves is we have people who are responsible for a particular discipline within the company.”

This is to ensure that the required flexibility and opportunities are made available for all returners’ that are involved in the programme.

As a newly developed project, the programme will focus on working with the first selected returners’ and will then open for other applications after their few months at the office are complete.

“We want to make sure the programme works for us and the people joining. I think one of the mistakes a lot of businesses make is they make a plan, and it’s a rigid plan that they stick to and we want to make sure that we iterate the programme as we learn more about the people in it and the kind of needs that they have to make sure that we can offer the right kind of support,” he says.

DXW’s returners programme is open to anyone that has been out of work for over two years. “Generally, that is people who become economically inactive for a variety of reasons, often it’s family commitments but it’s open to anyone that fits the criteria,” Mann tells us.