How ‘returnships’ are helping older people get back into the workforce

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Are you a mid-to-late-career professional who has been out of the workforce for a while? There may be a new opportunity for you to get back in through a new employment model called a “returnship.”

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Returnships: An internship for older professionals that pays

Many employees who were mid- or late-career during last decade’s recession had a bullseye on their backs. Though illegal, age discrimination was rampant at that time as employers looked to shrink their labor costs by letting people go.

“In 2010, I remember doing a TV special with people who were all over 50 who had been canned from their jobs,” money expert Clark Howard says. “And I remember being exhausted after the broadcast because I didn’t have a lot of good answers or cheer to spread.”

But now there’s a flip going on in the workplace, where employers are once again interested in employees who have some years of experience under their belts.

Many mid-career workers, particularly those who are about 45 years or older, are getting their foot back in the door by doing what are being called “returnships.”

Mashable reports that some 160 or so companies have such programs, which typically consist of some technical training, soft skills training and one-on-one interaction with a mentor.

A few examples of companies with returnship programs include, with a paid 16-week regimen, and Deloitte’s Encore Program, which is an 11-week paid program.

Many of the returnships are geared toward women who left tech jobs to start families and now want to return to their previous careers, according to Mashable. and Path Forward are clearinghouses that have popped up online to keep track of the emerging world of returnship opportunities.


“It’s not every company, but it is a clear change going on in employment, so it can have real benefit to you,” Clark says. “Once you get inside a company, the odds that it will lead to ongoing employment at that company are really high.”

“If you felt you would never again find a place that respected your skills and paid you what you are worth, think again. It is a new opportunity now. Employers need workers who know what they’re doing so badly right now.”

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