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According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, in the ongoing war for technology talent, firms are increasingly looking to recruit women returning to the workforce. Why this demographic? Because they have the talent firms need . . . and there is less competition for workforce returnees.  As one recruiter puts it, “We made a conscious decision to focus on hiring people others were ignoring.”

It’s not just the tech sector waking up to the talent in this demographic – in fact, the tech sector is late to the party. Financial services firms, law firms, and companies in other sectors have been looking to returnees for several years. For example, Goldman Sachs created a Returnship Program, JP Morgan offers a Reentry Program, and the OnRamp Fellowship program, sponsored by many top tier law firms, provides “a re-entry platform that matches experienced women returning to the workforce after a hiatus.” In addition to connecting job seekers to law firms, the OnRamp Fellowship program offers returnees access to continuing education, training in negotiations, project management, business development and leadership.

Even with these new programs, there is still a significant mismatch between those wanting to return to the workforce and those wanting to fill high-skilled positions. The WSJ article notes:

“Nearly 90% attempt to resume their careers, but only 40% land full-time jobs, according to the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit research organization focused on minority groups in the workplace. About 25% of women who attempt to resume their careers take part-time jobs, and roughly 10% become self0employed, the Center said.”

In addition to companies patching their leaky talent pipeline, other organizations have stepped into this space. iRelaunch, an organization that bills itself as The Return-To-Work Company, helps broker the connection by offering returnees coaching, classes, and a host of services – and is clearly filling a need. Since launching in 2008, iRelaunch has served over 17,000 professionals and their Return-To-Work conference (which is sponsored by a number of universities) has sold out for the past six years. So there is both demand from industry and from an underserved market. Sounds like an opportunity for higher ed . . .

How many schools are working with industry partners to develop on-ramp programs for people returning to the workforce after an extended hiatus? What are you finding that works?

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