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Thames ‘super sewer’ tunnel company turns tide for career breakers who can’t find jobs

PUBLISHED: 15:53 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 18:53 18 February 2016

Career 'returner' Rachel Tomkins (inset) and Tideway's dredger survey at Blackfriars, ready for Thames 'super sewer' construction starting late 2016

Career 'returner' Rachel Tomkins (inset) and Tideway's dredger survey at Blackfriars, ready for Thames 'super sewer' construction starting late 2016

Tideway

Professionals who have taken career breaks are being urged back into work by the Tideway utility company building London’s ‘super sewer’ under the Thames.

Tideway Tunnel under Thames should end overflows into the river from London's ageing Victorian sewer networkTideway Tunnel under Thames should end overflows into the river from London's ageing Victorian sewer network

Paid-for internships with skills from finance to construction are being offered with the company, which got its licence last year to build the Tideway tunnel below the riverbed from Barnes to the Isle of Dogs connecting to east London’s Abbey Mills draining link to Beckton.

Ex-soldier Rachel Tomkins, 40, who left the Army to raise her family, now works full-time as a Tideway manager after taking part in last year’s ‘returnship’ programme.

“I served as a Royal Engineer before spending nine years at home raising three boys,” she said.

“I was convinced with my background that restarting my career once they were at school would not be an issue.

“But it was clear that CV gaps are not viewed favourably.”

Tideway chief Andy Mitchell is using another ‘returnship’ programme to attract experienced professionals like Rachel.

One of the biggest pools of untapped talent is professionals on a career break, he has realised.

But career-breakers often find it difficult getting work because of the gap in their CVs, he finds.

So Andy is “turning the tide” to get them back to work and their feet under the table.

He has drawn up an agreement with organisations like Women Returners, the UK experts in getting professionals back to work after extended breaks.

Its co-founder Julianne Miles said: “The value of ‘returnship’ programmes is becoming more evident for companies wanting to bring in a diverse range of talent.”

Successful candidates for Tideway’s ‘returnships’ start a 12-week full-time programme on April 19, with additional roles in September.

Tideway starts construction on the ‘super sewer’ later this year, with completion planned by 2023. The scheme is aimed at tackling London’s growing sewage problem with the ageing Victorian sewer network often overflowing into the Thames.

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