Are you over 50 and looking for a new career opportunity? A returnership may be right for you – a newly announced initiative from the UK government designed to help older workers get back into work.

Read on to find out exactly what a returnership is and how businesses can benefit through employer apprenticeship incentives.

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What is a returnership?

‘Returnerships’ is a new initiative launched by the UK government to encourage adults over the age of 50 to get back into work and embark on new career ventures. The scheme brings together three programmes – Apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps, and Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) – to provide a clear route back into work and encourage employers to hire older workers.

Skills Bootcamps are free courses designed in partnership with local employers to help fill job vacancies in your area. These flexible courses last up to 16 weeks and allow you to gain the in-demand skills employers are looking for, with the offer of a job interview on completion. From courses in digital and green industries, to those in technical sectors such as construction or engineering, there are hundreds of bootcamps on offer.

An apprenticeship is a job with training that can be used by learners of all ages and all career stages to gain valuable skills, retrain or reskill. Lastly, Sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) are an opportunity to learn new skills and get experience of working in a particular industry, for example care, construction or warehouse work.

Who is a returnership for?

Returnerships are targeted at adults over the age of 50 who are returning to work or seeking a career change. Apprenticeships and most Skills Bootcamps are open to everyone, but SWAPs are specifically for jobseekers who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

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What has the UK government announced about returnerships?

The UK government has announced additional funding of £63.2 million to increase the availability of Skills Bootcamps and SWAPs. This includes £34 million of additional funding for Skills Bootcamps, helping up to 8,000 more people to benefit from this transformational scheme, with an aim of delivering 64,000 training places from next year.

The increased funding will also allow the expansion of the Sector-Based Work Academy Programme (SWAPs) scheme to increase the number of places available and make the programme more accessible. This will create around 40,000 new SWAPs placements.

To further build on the adult learning offer, the government has also recently announced the Lifelong Learning Entitlement. From 2025, people will be able to access loans worth up to £37,000 to upskill or retrain no matter where they are in life.

Returnership UK

How do I get started with a returnership?

Your first port of call should be HMRC’s Returnership Toolkit. The comprehensive documents covers both the specifics of getting into returnships schemes like SWAPs and Skills Bootcamps, as well as the general advice about updating your CV and finding a career direction.

What are the employer apprentice incentives?

For employers, HMRC will fund between 95% and 100% of training costs for apprentices you hire. They also report that in the UK, the estimated yearly gain for employers is between £2,500 and £18,000 per apprentice during their training period.

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