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“Returnships” Bring People Back to the Workforce

PepsiCo is expanding its year-old “returnship” program in North America, which includes a large increase of available positions in their supply chain, sales and commercial fields, according to HR Dive.

The program: PepsiCo’s returnship program is built for people who have been out of the workforce for long periods of time and includes mentorships, professional development and networking opportunities for participants. Typically, participants are offered a full-time position once they complete the program.

The background: Returnship programs existed pre-pandemic, but they are seeing an increase due to the number of caregivers who were forced out of the workforce at the height of COVID-19.

  • A disproportionate number of women—especially Black women—left the workforce due to the lack of child care, in-person schooling and availability in nursing homes.
  • They are also often pulling double duty at home, with responsibilities like child care, cleaning and the overall running of the household.

The data: “While 1 in 5 women left the workforce during the pandemic, according to a study released in 2021 by MetLife in partnership with Rainmakers CSI, nearly two-thirds of those who left planned to return.”

More manufacturing leaders: PepsiCo is not the only company with a successful returnship program. Microsoft and Schneider Electric have also introduced similar programs in recent years.

  • Schneider Electric’s program, created in February 2022, is offering new opportunities to longtime caregivers, according to another HR Dive article from last year.
  • “Ad-hoc” flexibility is an important facet of their returnship program and overall company model, said Amy deCastro, Schneider’s vice president of HR for global business.

More opportunities: The Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education partner—is also working to inspire the next generation of female manufacturers. For more information, check out the Women MAKE America Initiative.

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