£200k boost to help tackle causes of gender pay gap across North West

Almost £200,000 has been awarded by the Government to help people across the North West get back into work after lengthy career breaks spent caring for others.

St Helens Chamber of Commerce has been awarded £187,000 and Women Returners a further £110,000.

The funding was announced by the Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins.

In all, five organisations in England will share £489,050 from a new government start-up fund to help people who have taken lengthy career breaks to care for others get back into work.

In the UK, nine out of 10 potential returners are women.

Studies have shown that time out of work and fewer years of full-time work are two of the reasons women struggle to progress at work – contributing towards the gender pay gap.

The grants will support parents and carers back into the workplace through training, refreshing skills and facilitating work placements.

Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins, said: “For too long, taking time out of work to care for others has cut short careers and brilliant, talented women are unable to re-enter industries which will not support them to return.

“This is a huge loss, not only to those individuals, but to our economy and businesses all over the country.

“We are investing in returners to work – giving them the opportunity to refresh and grow their skills and encouraging employers to change their outdated recruitment processes.

“By taking action on this issue we can grow the economy and achieve true equality in our workplaces.”

McKinsey research found that if women stay in the labour market, work in more productive sectors and work longer hours, there is the potential for £150bn to be added to the annual GDP in 2025.

This pilot funding is aimed at demonstrating to companies that government means business, and inspire them to take their own steps to encourage returners with a vast array of skills back into the jobs market.

Launched on March 4, 2018, the Government guaranteed £1.5m to get people with caring responsibilities back into work.

£1,010,950 more funding will be awarded this Autumn.

The grant to St Helens Chamber will support them to engage 120 returners through career coaching using a pop-up classroom.

They will equally engage employers to identify suitable job opportunities and broker recruitment.

Tracy Mawson, St Helens Chamber deputy chief executive, said: “Local businesses tell us that difficulties in recruiting staff is holding back their growth and making them reluctant to create new jobs.

“We are delighted that, through this project, we will be able to work with returners – in our view a valuable and untapped resource in the local labour market.

“We are very excited about the prospect of supporting both businesses and returners to create new job opportunities.”

Women Returners is a social consultancy supporting returners and has supported more than 50 employers to develop their own returner programmes and developed best practice guidance.

The grant will allow them to support 100 returners through workshops and training in the legal sector in Manchester and Leeds.

They will also reform the recruitment and support practices of 12 law firms to enable them to target returners in the future.

Julianne Miles, Women Returners managing director, said: “We are delighted that this government funding will enable us to kick-start a much-needed initiative to enable legal professionals to resume their careers at a suitable level after an extended career break.

“Women Returners, in partnership with The Law Society, will pilot Law Returners, a cross-company returnship in Manchester and Leeds in early 2019. The aim is to create a sustainable business-led model to apply across other regions.

“Following the rapid growth of returnships in sectors such as financial services, telecoms and construction, we are excited to be extending a concept with proven success into the law sector in Northern England.”

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