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Women Returners

Please note that the application period for the Women Returner Programme 20/21 closed at midnight on Wednesday 2nd December. We will no longer be accepting any applications for funding.

The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills has launched a call for applications to the Women Returners Programme. The funds will offer immediate support in the current Covid-19 environment and ensure that work to promote and embed workplace equality continues so that equality groups are not further disadvantaged in the labour market as a result of the effects of Covid-19.

Applications to the fund are encouraged that will deliver short and sharp interventions supporting employers to improve their diversity and inclusion strategies and support women back into the labour market. Application forms and information on criteria can be downloaded from this page, along with an FAQ document and webinar slides which provide further information on the fund.

The table below lists the projects being funded under the Women Returners Programme 2020/21

Projects Funded Under the Women Returners Programme 20/21


Name of Project

Geographical Location


Muckle Media


Returners to communications programme

Nationwide - focus on rural



HRC Recruitment

Return with Resilience




The Lennox Partnership

Building Aspirations for Women Returners

North Ayrshire



Bridges Programmes

Fresh Start





East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce

On Track - Women Returner Programme East Renfrewshire

East Renfrewshire



Women in Scottish Aquaculture


Supporting Women to Join the Scottish Aquaculture Industry


Highlands and Islands, Argyll & Bute, Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles



RFEA - The Forces Employment Charity

Female veteran/spouse employment within Scotland




Women Returners Ltd


Women Returners Back to Work Accelerator


Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee/Aberdeen



Women Returners Ltd


Women Returners to Financial Services Scotland

Glasgow, Edinburgh, and/or Stirling



Fife Centre for Equalities

Women's Returners at Sky Dunfermline




Challenges Catalyst


Making work work - for women returners




Adopt an Intern Ltd


Back to Work 2 (for minority ethnic women returners)




Total  £311,120.11

The following table provides an overview of additional projects supporting Workplace Equality:


Name of Project

Geographical Location

Equality Group


Genanalytics Ltd

Building the foundations for women returners at Standard Life Aberdeen: A sustainable approach




Borders College

GROW - Gaining Rewards and Opportunities for Work

Scottish Borders

Older workers (those aged 50 and over); Workers experiencing social isolation and loneliness; Workers from a rural area; Workers from an SIMD area


Transport Scotland

Civ Tech Challenge 10 - how to support connections when working remotely


All workers


Clackmannanshire Council


Clackmannanshire Women's Voices





Ceteris (Scotland) Ltd

ClacksWISE 2021   Women into Self-Employment





Alloa Community Enterprises






Capital City Partnership

Women Returners' Listening and Coaching Service



Women; Workers experiencing social isolation and loneliness; Workers who have experienced or suffered domestic abuse



Support for Women in the Rural Economy

Nationwide (Focus on remote and rural areas)

Women; Workers from a rural area



If you would like further information on the Women Returners Programme please contact

Background to the Programme 

Evidence suggests there are a number of barriers around women returning to work following an extended absence, with many experiencing a 'motherhood penalty' following maternity.

This government has a commitment to identify and address the issues preventing women re-entering the workforce, particularly rebuilding skills, knowledge and confidence while enabling employers to gain from recruiting and retaining skilled, experienced staff.

8th March 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan to mark International Women's Day 2019. The plan will help the Scottish Government meet its commitment of reducing the gender pay gap by 2021. This plan sets out a whole system approach across public, private and third sectors and looks at breaking down the cause of the gender pay gap throughout a young girl's life - from challenging gender stereotyping in early years learning and schools to supporting employers to adopt inclusive and flexible workplace practices to help mothers return to work after a career break.
There are over 50 actions, including: Supporting 2,000 women to return to work after a career break through the new Women Returners Programme worth £5 million over three years, building on the success of a pilot project run since 2017. The new programme is currently under development. Watch this space for further information….

26 October 2016

Funding to help women back to work following career breaks.

Women Returners Ltd have been awarded £48,500 for the Returners to Financial Services Scotland Programme.  Women Returners are partnering with 13 financial services companies to create a wide variety of paid 3 month placements which will equip professional women on career break with the skills, knowledge and experience to enable them to apply for permanent roles at the end of the programme. The programme will run from April to July and is now open for applications from women who have taken a career break of 18 months or more.  You can find out more here:

£ 48,500

North Lanarkshire Council's 'Positive Returns' project will engage with 10 local Employers to offer "returnships" to women returners.  Through this 10 women returners will undertake pre-employment support before undertaking a three month placement with an employer.


NC Resources Ltd have been awarded £13,000 to undertake one Women into Security course which will take place in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. This will involve recruiting women from all ethnic groups and seeks to inform women about the variety of jobs available within the sector, which is currently male dominated.


Stirling Council's 'Women into Work' will address the gender pay gap for at least six women returners in the Stirling area by exploring flexible working practices to enable more equal caring responsibilities and balance caring and work, thereby aiming to prevent a pay penalty.

Adopt an Intern will host workshops to support 30 BME women examine strategies that support personal and work based confidence and resilience with access to three month internships with Diageo, Trossachs Distillery, Highland Spring and small manufacturing businesses.


Glasgow Clyde College will deliver the Returners into Child-minding project to 15 Returners to the labour market from the Glasgow LEP area. They will receive training in working with Children with the aim to become a registered, self-employed Child-minder.  The application will help meet the Scottish Government's childcare and early years expansion plans as well as encouraging female entrepreneurship and males into a traditionally female dominated sector. This will send the message  that caring responsibilities are no longer viewed as solely a women's responsibility . 

Equate Scotland  have received funding to support women to return to work in the STEM sector. This 12-month project will provide at least 40 women with support to re-enter the STEM sector by offering one to one guidance, career clinics and access to webinars and three month paid placements with a STEM employer. The placements will focus on life sciences, digital skills and engineering.




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