Amazon offers ‘returnships’ for professionals rejoining the labor market
Amazon.com announced last week the launch of Amazon Returnship, a new employment initiative focused on hiring professionals that have been unemployed or underemployed for at least a year. The retail and technology giant said it plans to hire 1,000 people in the coming years through the new program.
The company made the decision to roll out the program after a successful pilot with over 30 participants in areas including operations finance, consumer payments, Amazon Pay and search.
Alex Mooney, senior diversity talent acquisition program manager at Amazon, said that odds are typically slim for people seeking to return to work. “The average returner has been out of the workforce for six years. Fewer than 10 percent receive a job offer, and the probability of gaining employment decreases significantly at two years of unemployment.” Amazon has an internal team in place that is focused on recruiting those looking to rejoin the workforce.
Those accepted into the program receive an initial 16-week paid opportunity with choices to work in a wide variety of disciplines. Each participant (AKA returner) goes through “a customized and abbreviated interview process” that addresses their career path. Amazon provides returners with dedicated support and personalized coaching during the entire process.
Returners work on a specific project during the first 16 weeks with an opportunity to move into full-time positions with Amazon upon completion. Those receiving returnships work remotely from home during this initial phase with Amazon providing child and elder care assistance to help workers transition back into the workforce with the least amount of disruption to their lives.
Amazon expects that three-quarters of returners will be women. Millions of women lost their jobs during the pandemic and many fell out as personal demands such as childcare made it infeasible to return to work.
“While people may need to drop from the workforce to help care for children or aging parents, we believe that this should not penalize their careers,” Beth Galetti, senior vice president of People eXperience and technology at Amazon, said in a statement. “Coming back to work after a break can be challenging—the company you know and the tools you used are likely to have changed. Amazon’s new Returnship program is designed to help professionals reintegrate to the workforce and offers them competitive pay, a structured environment, and personalized mentorship so they can succeed.”
- Amazon Launches New Program to Support Americans Displaced from the Job Market Return to the Workforce – Amazon.com
- Amazon’s Returnship program helps professionals get back to work – Amazon.com
- Millions Of Women Haven’t Rejoined The Workforce — And May Not Anytime Soon – NPR
- More women left work when jobs evaporated or to care for children. How will they be affected by pandemic fallout? – Topeka Capital-Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are retailers missing a personnel opportunity by not actively recruiting individuals who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time? What can other companies learn from Amazon’s early findings around its returnship program?