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Programme lead: Kirsten Durie & Jo Lewington

We designed a tailored six-month part time return to work placement for professionally qualified candidates who have taken an extended career break (of two years and over). The programme was designed to re-engage experienced, talented and skilled professionals and facilitate their transition back into the workplace. Support is provided every step of the way – including a dedicated mentor for additional support – to help enhance current skillsets and increase industry knowledge.
Network Rail Property join a number of companies and industries who have also created similar Returners programme including the AA, Morgan Stanley, Sky and Skansa, to name but a few.
What was delivered
  • Year 1: Three candidates (1 x Commercial Estate and 2 x Development)
  • Year 2: Six candidates (2 x Finance and 3 x Surveyors in various offices)
  • Year 1: Two candidates are now permanent employees within Property, working in the Development and Retail teams
  • Year 2: Of the Finance Returners, both candidates are still within Property of which one secured role in Property. Of the Surveyors, one is currently interviewing for a permanent role, one has had a contract extension and one secured a permanent position outside of Network Rail.
  • Helped to address the gender balance
  • Created a new pipeline of talent and professionals
  • Opportunity to increase reputational benefits (first to launch at Network Rail)
  • Potential to fill open roles if returner is successful (reducing time to recruit)
  • Offered a supportive working environment with a dedicated mentor and buddy
  • Provided meaningful experience to add to the candidates CV
  • Built a transferable skillset that can help a candidate apply for wider roles within NR or externally.
Returner’s story

Rachel Thrower

I’m Rachel Thrower, a chartered surveyor for Development. Having returned to work quickly after my first two children, I later decided to take a few years out of the profession to focus on my young family, now 11, 9 and 6. After my youngest son went to school, I felt increasingly motivated to return to work. I had previously enjoyed working within the commercial property market and had been successful in my career prior to the break. However, I wasn’t overly optimistic about the likelihood of finding a challenging role based upon my previous work experience especially as my priority was a flexible, part time job. At the same time, I considered it a wasted opportunity not be able to build upon this experience (15 years+) simply because I had taken a few years out and didn’t have “recent” experience.

The Returners programme therefore came at a very opportune moment for me personally.

The scheme was advertised on the RICS jobs website seeking individuals who were RICS qualified, could work a minimum of 21 hours and had taken a career break of two years or more. Successful candidates would start in September after the school holidays and undertake a three-month placement. This short-term placement on a part time basis provided an excellent opportunity to return to the profession and get back up to speed with the support of a mentor and provision for training and continued professional development. Any concerns that I had about returning to work such as outdated skills or managing personal commitments quickly diminished, knowing the programme was specifically structured to facilitate and support individuals returning to work after a career break.

The experience has been a very positive one. My placement was within the Development team and in March 2018, I moved into a permanent development manager role. I have a varied and challenging workload and work three days a week. I was not under pressure to take a full-time role and my workload is not compromised because it’s part time, which is always a concern. The Returners programme provided me with an excellent reintroduction to the profession.

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