I had a Eureka! moment yesterday. It took the combination of three observations:
- The Economist once wrote that an enormous–and largely under-reported–driver of the Irish Celtic Tiger economic boom was the sizeable mass of college-educated women entering, and also returning to, the Irish workforce.
- In my world I am surrounded by women who have taken a career break and are looking to re-enter the paid workforce.
- Even in this economy, my college-age son has had good access to summer internships. But college-age kids have nothing, contribution-wise, on an adult with five, ten, or more, years of professional experience. So…..
Here is my big brainstorm. Companies looking to do more with less (which is virtually every company) should have a formal “Executive in Residence” program for retooling career break professionals. These would be structured four to six month internships specifically designed for highly skilled and experienced women (could be men too, why not?) who re-enter the work force. I discussed this topic yesterday with someone who said,
That idea really resonates with me. College interns are hit or miss. But experienced women–you absolutely know they would deliver! I’m friends with so many women in this boat. One of them was a former VP of Marketing at Sapient and she is having trouble landing a middle management marcom job! She missed so much change over the last few years, especially in social media. She just needs someone to give her a break–so she can catch up and, again, work at her appropriate level.
I think, as long as the training burden was not too onerous, the arrangement could be eminently fair for both sides. The re-entry professional could get up to speed on new tools and processes, and the sponsoring company could get some experienced workforce boost to their enterprise.
OK President Obama. Now I am envisioning some kind of tax credit, or subsidy, for companies that rally behind this idea… This could be the best economic stimulus plan no one is discussing. Yet. And if it worked for Ireland…
P.S. A great resource for more ideas and advice regarding relaunching a career can be found at www.irelaunch.com