Bridging the Employability Gap for Women Returning to Work

As many women have found, returning to work after an extended absence is sometimes not so straightforward, and far more complicated than originally thought. In addition, the added complication of the global pandemic has now raised deeper concerns that women (already disadvantaged by COVID’s impact on their lives) will find returning to their professional lives harder than ever.

In these circumstances, many women are concerned that their time away will negatively impact how they are perceived by potential employers. But, with the demand for highly skilled workers increasing, employers are actively courting women who left work to have children or to care for family members. Hiring working mothers is no longer a token gesture but a business imperative.

This is where The Women Returners Programme comes into play. Created to assist women in Scotland who’ve been out of work for 6+ months to successfully enter the workforce, the programme is set up to help restart the career journey for this important part of the workforce. The service aims to provide one-to-one bespoke support, advice and access to professional opportunities.

Virtual Internships is proud to be an official training provider of the programme and offer women the freedom to begin re-entry into the professional world – regardless of their location. Our vision is to promote the benefits of flexible working approaches and utilizing technology to create opportunities to access good work based on an individual’s talent rather than their logistical circumstances.

Offering an entirely online internship with additional professional career support via CareerBridge, Virtual Internships offers programme participants the opportunity to professional participate across 18 in-demand sectors and access to over 4,000 employers globally.


The Program

  • Opportunities across 18 in-demand career fields
  • Project-based learning with access to over 4000 employers globally.
  • Easy-to-use online employability platform
  • Employability coaching and support to make the most of your experience
  • Feedback & Global Career Management Plan to help with next steps
  • Completed fully online – no commute, no relocation, flexible hours.
  • Multiple Start dates throughout 2021 & 2022

When asked about her Virtual Internship, Jennifer stated that: “Virtual Internships was a great opportunity for me to learn new skills. Being able to build confidence, get hands-on experience in my chosen career field, networking, and receive feedback for personal development was a wonderful experience!”


Barriers Facing Women Wishing to Reenter the Workforce Include

  • Experiencing the “Motherhood Penalty”
  • Loss of professional confidence
  • Gaps in updated skills for future of work including digital skills
  • Lack of flexible working opportunities.
  • Significantly impacted by the pandemic

Numerous studies carried out since the first lockdown last year have suggested the pandemic is aggravating gender inequality. One, by the University of Exeter, found women are almost twice as likely as men to have lost their job during the pandemic Another study by networking site LinkedIn, which looked specifically at people over 30 (most likely to have additional caring responsibilities), showed women have consistently made up less than half of successful applicants for new jobs since the start of the pandemic, despite more women than men spending additional time job-hunting.

Learner sign-ups in the virtual internship programs have increased exponentially from just 100 in 2019 to over 6,000 expected in 2021. The eventual goal is to target one million learners globally per year.

According to Virtual Internships Co-Founder, Daniel Nivern, “Having helped over 10,000 learners to do in-person internships, we thought to ourselves wouldn’t it be amazing if we could offer similar transformative international internships programs, not to 10,000 learners but a million learners”.

Currently, Virtual Internships partners with over 100 universities and governments and approximately 7,000 host companies across 70 countries worldwide.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Womans Returner Programme aims to contribute towards reducing the gender pay gap, improving women’s economic position in the labour market and delivering fair and inclusive economic growth. Support offered will be based on an individual’s existing skills, experience and barriers to employment and could include, but is not limited to, mentoring, CV-building, IT skills, other learning provisions or a work placement.

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