When it comes to employment potential across a single population, the UAE presents a rather unusual – and very interesting – demographic. Many believe that the Emirates are home to a disproportionately large pool of professional, talented women, many of whom have moved here because of their partner’s job and been the ones to settle the children into school, find and set up a home and navigate a new life in a new country.
For some, moving here is the chance to not have to work, to stay at home and raise their families themselves. But for others who want or need to return to work, the route back can seem paved with problems.
Travelling spouses, tricky maternity policies, a revolving door of guests to ferry around and entertain – it’s not surprising to hear that getting back to work for whatever field you left behind, can seem, well, completely out of reach for so many.
And let’s not forget what a knock to the confidence a long spell out of the workforce can be, a feeling you’re so out of touch with corporate technology you wouldn’t know where to start and the thought of digging out something vaguely smart and tackling an actual interview brings you out in a cold sweat. Enter the Mums@work Return to Work programme.
“I, personally, have wanted to set this scheme up for some time now,” says Mums@work co-founder, Louise Karim, as the recruitment firm – backed by UAE job experts MacKenzie Jones – celebrates its first year in business. “We wanted to do more than just help a mum find a job. We wanted to be able to support her on that journey of returning to work, which means help with IT skills, confidence, interview technique and working out what career path would actually suit her now. And so our Return to Work scheme was born.”
Karim and her team have reached out and created partnerships with some of the biggest international brands operating in the UAE to develop 12-week working programmes for roles within each organisation. Applications are now open online for mums who have been out of the workplace for at least two years for mid- to senior-level jobs at programme partners Virgin, APCO, IBM and Visa.
Kate Lane, Visa’s director of human resources for the Middle East and North Africa, explains: “Universal acceptance for everyone, everywhere, is not only our brand promise, it is the foundation of our company culture. That applies to our products as well as our people and the Mums@work Return to Work scheme was a natural partnership to reinforce our commitment to diversity. It aligns closely with Visa’s own return to work programme, and the UAE government’s agenda of women empowerment.”
She continues: “This is going to be a fantastic opportunity for each successful candidate to work for companies who are market leaders in diversity, already committed to supporting working mums.
“The candidates will be assigned a clearly defined project which will allow them to readjust to the working world and have tangible outcomes for their CV.”
So what will a 12-week placement under the scheme actually look like? Lane explains: “Participants across marketing, communications, consulting, operations and human resources will be able to access one-to-one mentoring and networking opportunities with leadership as well as tailored training opportunities.
“The placements at Visa have been designed with flexible working in mind and around real business challenges and projects, giving participating mums the ability to really add value to Visa during their time with us. It is an incredible opportunity for mum returners to restart their careers and solve interesting business challenges while working flexibly.”
Communications giant APCO is also excited to be involved in the programme. Deputy managing director for the Arab region, Elizabeth Sen, says: “As a majority women-owned global communications consultancy founded 33 years ago by a working mother, APCO is committed to supporting the needs of working parents.
“We are particularly proud, for instance, that a vast majority of our female employees return to work after maternity leave and we view this as a long-term opportunity, which we hope will give more women in the UAE the career they deserve by attracting lost talent back to the communications industry.”
Applications are now open for a range of opportunities within each organisation. Register to apply and submit your CV before the September 10 deadline and who knows what the future may hold? Go on, take a deep breath and go for it!