Making it work for mothers: launch of new online careers service
Today Women Like Us, with backing from the Innovation in Giving Fund, has launched a free online portal that connects mothers who need career help to professional women who want to share advice and expertise.
Feeling 'locked out of work' is a common feeling among mothers with dependent children and many of us know that flexibility can be key to re-entering the workplace, often taking precedence over pay or job type. That mothers feel this way about their career options when seeking work is pretty telling; and there are scant resources, contact and networks for women to plug into, to take advice and guidance from. We selected to support Women Like Us through the Innovation in Giving Fund, because we believe that mothers who have experienced the challenge of finding work form a critical resource to offer support, practical advice, and - quite frankly - hope that it is possible.
Women Like Us
Women Like Us has been helping women with children find work to fit with family life since 2005. Women Like Us is part of the Timewise group which, as well as providing frontline careers advice and support, also offers access to part-time work through its specialist recruitment service, Timewise Jobs. The organisation's dedicated approach to addressing both the supply of and demand for women returners, through its social enterprise model, caught our eye when we were exploring innovation in tacking worklessness last year. As a result Women Like Us was featured as a case study in our Making it Work report, which made the case for innovation in the jobs market. This report called for more experimentation around ideas that improve the matching of individuals to jobs, and more prototyping of new ones to test what works. For these reasons we're very pleased to see (and, through the Innovation in Giving Fund, to support) a new idea like this get off the ground.
The careers portal seeks to address the particular challenges that mothers in the labour market face, uncovered by research and analysis that Women Like Us has commissioned. The new careers services offers a real opportunity for women who may feel this sense of isolation and lack of practical advice, the opportunity to access an online network populated with people they can relate to, and learn from.
Advice from experts
As well as opening up opportunities to mothers seeking work, the power of this idea is that it makes it a whole lot easier for skilled professionals to volunteer their time and knowledge. The portal already offers an impressive calibre of experts to do so - employees from Accenture, Microsoft and Virgin have pledged their time to offer advice and act as online mentors. The ability to tap into this volunteering potential is why Women Like Us were successful in receiving backing from the Innovation In Giving Fund (run by Nesta and funded by Cabinet Office) which supports 67 innovative ideas for new and better ways to enable the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money.
Those of us at Nesta who are continuing to explore innovative ideas in the jobs market look forward to seeing what this new service achieves and sharing its successes. In fact, to showcase good ideas like this one and to find out about the wide range of individuals and organisations doing interesting things differently in the labour market, we recently launched a living map of jobs innovators. This is a quick guide to some of the most exciting things happening in the world of job creation and tackling worklessness at the moment. We've added 80 of the good ideas we've come across already and we encourage you to have a look and add more - why not start by checking out the entry on Women Like Us.