We know construction is facing a skills crisis, made even worse by Brexit uncertainty.

We have to be imaginative in meeting two challenges: attracting the next generation and reaching out to new pools of talent.

How we do this requires innovative thinking.

This includes how we engage with people who have taken a career break and are now itching to get back into work. We need to be clever in how we tap into this wide pool of talent.

That’s where our Welcome Back programme comes in. It’s aimed at giving people who’ve had an extended career break a route back into work via construction. This is ideal for those with the right skills or could easily be trained to develop them across the full range of business disciplines.

Welcome back

Our Welcome Back returner programme was designed with an organisation called Women Returners. It’s a 20-week programme on a fixed-term contract basis that offers work experience along with a coaching programme that includes refresher training and new skills. For the right candidates, it leads to the opportunity for a permanent role.

Who will it appeal to?

Returners are defined as people with existing work experience who have taken an extended career break (typically two years or more) for caring or other reasons. They are also either not currently working or working in temporary or part-time roles, including in home-businesses or in a freelance capacity. Returners can be male or female but tend to be predominantly women.

Our programme is designed to give returners the confidence and flexibility to find their feet in the business world. It can often be daunting coming back to work after a significant break and we hope this gives the reassurance and confidence to return.

We started in April 2018 and received over 100 applications, all of whom were spoken to initially by a member of our recruitment team. After assessment and interview, we have welcomed five returners to Willmott Dixon at the end of September 2018.

A flexible approach

One of our returners previously worked within the construction sector before taking a career break but the others have transferable skills gained from a variety of backgrounds that include the finance, aviation and events industries. Four out of five are working reduced hours or flexibly during the 20-week programme which fully supports evidence that flexible working is one of the most important criteria for people to return to work after a career break.

The Future

This is just the start! We’ll be giving the “Welcome Back” opportunity to more people during 2019.

One thing we have learned is that our people sharing information about our programme with their own local networks is as effective as any paid advert or external promotion; hence the huge uplift in interest!

For further information on Willmott Dixon’s Welcome Back programme, please email us at careers@willmottdixon.co.uk