‘Returnships’ help stay-at-home mothers get careers back on track

By Saira Peesker | The Globe and Mail | May 07, 2018

Something big happened in the world’s workplaces while Laura Boisvert was at home raising kids: The internet. From 1999 to 2011, while Ms. Boisvert was a stay-at-home mom in Toronto, the internet went from a fast way to send letters to the ubiquitous backbone of most workplaces.

She had used computers in her previous job at the Sears Canada head office, but so much had changed that she was way behind.

“I felt stupid,” said Ms. Boisvert, 52, describing her first attempt back into the work force, doing administrative tasks part-time at a friend’s law office. She had to learn so many new technical skills that she felt like a drag, and says she never really settled into the role. “It was challenging and frustrating.”

In the United States, returnships have become an increasingly popular option for women looking to brush up on skills and ease back into the work force, particularly in the startup world of Silicon Valley. Large companies such as IBM, Goldman Sachs and Deloitte all offer such back-to-work programs.

Toronto’s most prominent returnship is Women in Capital Markets’ Return to Bay Street, which works with a broad group of financial institutions to help women relaunch careers. In four years, the initiative has placed 42 women back in the industry.

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