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Smoothing the way for women to return to work after decades away

Original Content Publication Date: 11/16/2018


Mother of twenty-two years, Jennifer Fleck was finally able to return to the workforce as an engineer through General Motors career re-entry program or "returnship". Aimed at recruiting more experienced employees, re-entry programs help people who have taken long extended breaks from the work force to raise a family, for health issues, etc. by helping them refresh on skills they already know and catch up with the new market developments and trainings that they have missed during their time away.

Key Points

  • To participate in most returnship programs, you have to have been out of the workforce for at least two years
  • Although these employees miss out on new developments and trainings, they are learning new skills during their time away that brings a much-needed diversity to the existing workforce when they return
  • Returning employees still face stereotypes upon returning to the workforce, but that doesn't account for wisdom, which big companies believe to be a critical part of any team

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the benefit of hiring employees that have been out of the workforce for extended periods of time?
  2. What skills do returning employees bring to the workforce that existing employees may not have?
  3. What can companies do to make the transition process smoother for returning employees?


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