UK returnships broaden beyond banking: Tideway Returner Programme – NOW CLOSED

The first UK ‘returnship’ programme outside the financial sector, helping professionals return to work after a long career break, is launched today.

Thames Tideway Tunnel, a major project to clean up the River Thames in London, is inviting applications for the inaugural Tideway Returner Programme from people who have been out of the workforce for two years or more. Working with Women Returners, the UK experts in helping professional women relaunch their careers, the Programme commences in April with 12-week paid assignments for up to six returners.

The project has designed roles for returners with backgrounds in areas as diverse as civil engineering, project management, architecture, business planning, commercial law, public relations, investment banking and corporate finance. The available opportunities are in Business Planning, Legal, Stakeholder Engagement, Operations Management, Asset Management, and Financial Modelling.

Julie Thornton, Head of HR at Thames Tideway Tunnel, said:

“When I heard about the returnship concept in early 2014, I realised that it would be an excellent addition to our existing initiatives to create a gender-balanced workforce and would help to build a further legacy for this ground-breaking project.”

“We fully appreciate the value and potential of bringing back in former professionals to contribute to one of Europe’s largest construction projects.”

“As we appreciate that returners benefit from a transition period to get back up to speed, the Programme also includes coaching support from Women Returners together with an internal mentor.”

“We are very happy to help people to balance their work with other areas of their life and have many examples in the organisation of people working flexibly.”

Julianne Miles, Director and Co-founder of Women Returners added:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Thames Tideway Tunnel on the Tideway Returner Programme, showing UK business that people can come back from a career break into productive and vital roles. The programme offers the organisation access to a largely untapped pool of high-calibre experienced and motivated women and gets over potential ‘CV Gap’ concerns of hiring managers about their lack of recent experience.”

Katerina Gould, Director and Co-founder of Women Returners continued:

“The Tideway Returner Programme will not only provide London with a great environmental legacy but will also enable highly qualified and skilled individuals to get back to the careers they feared might be lost. Returnship programmes such as this are a win:win. Businesses can refill their talent pipeline and bring forward more female leaders; returners benefit from a supported pathway back to work, gaining valuable work experience and rebuilding their professional confidence.”

Thames Tideway Logo
Thames Tideway Tunnel

The River Thames is at the heart of London but in recent years, it has often been overlooked. The Thames Tideway Tunnel project wants to help change all that, and we want you to be part of our ambition to breathe life back in to our river. This is not just an engineering project, it’s about building a London that is fit for your children, and even your great, great, grandchildren. Every year, millions of tonnes of pollution spills from sewerage discharge gates along the tidal river embankment, and that simply has to stop. Join us to help clean up London’s river together.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new sewer, urgently needed to help protect the tidal River Thames from increasing pollution.

  • The tunnel will last for at least 100 years and will ensure London’s sewerage system is ‘fit for purpose’, able to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population for generations to come.
  • The project is expected to create approximately 9,000 jobs.
  • Main construction works will start in 2016, with a completion date for the project of 2023.

More information on the programme is available here or email

Women Returners
Women returners logo

Katerina Gould and Julianne Miles are the co-founders of Women Returners, a UK coaching, consulting and network organisation which specialises in the return to work of professional women after an extended career break through their organisational arm, Women Returners for Business. They advise companies on designing returnships, deliver tailored returner coaching and provide access to the hard-to-reach returner talent pool. Women Returners is working towards a future where taking a career break is seen as an acceptable pause and returnship programmes are widespread.

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