Q&A with Sacha Atherton, Director at Premier Parents Recruitment

Sacha Atherton, Director at Premier Parents Recruitment, spoke to us about the struggle with being recognised as a recruiter, persuading employers to recognise the benefits of working parents, and their unique event to empower parents…

What motivated you to start up an agency specifically for parents?

Personal experience. I’ve gone through most of the same challenges my candidates have. I worked full-time for almost fifteen years and when my daughter started school last year, it was the right time for me to change that slightly. Long story short, my employer at the time didn’t want me to reduce my hours so I resigned from my role as Product Manager with the view of finding a more flexible job following her first couple of weeks at school, however, that didn’t go to plan.

I couldn’t find anything locally offering any kind of flexibility, even with my skill set. So, after a few weeks of hunting and getting extremely frustrated, I decided recruitment was the missing piece. Not only are there hardly any part time or flexible roles out there but the recruitment process just isn’t family-friendly and employers are missing out on some serious untapped talent.

What are the unique challenges you face at Premier Parents?

I have really struggled to get employers on-board with using my services, more than I thought I would. The key challenges are that there is a load of senseless stigma associated with working parents and the “baggage” that they bring. Furthermore, employers that will consider taking more parents on don’t want to pay me for it, they think they’re doing us a favour.

When I first started out, employers thought Premier Parents was a charity, not because they had been told that or seen it anywhere, but simply because the candidates I represent are parents, most of which are mums - it was insane! I had to start promoting the fact that we are a recruitment consultancy, a business offering a very valuable and ethical service. The good thing is that whilst progress is slow (due to the sheer magnitude of the problem) I have started to change the mind sets of a few employers and create some opportunities for parents.

Tell us more about your event, Premier Possibilities…

Premier Possibilities is a four-day course I designed to give parents the tools they need to start developing their confidence and employability skills. Most of my candidates are highly skilled people that just want more family-friendly hours or a more supportive boss, but I also wanted to do something for the parents that haven’t been in work for a while or haven’t worked at all.

The course caters to all the needs of a parent, eliminating the usual barriers that often prevent parents from attending events to better their skills. They take place in Nottingham, from 10am to 2pm each day. We offer free onsite childcare, travel costs and lunch are covered. We have a tutor from Central College cover employability skills (interviews, CVs etc.) and all of the transferrable skills that you have as a parent. I then work with partners across the city that provides parents with ongoing support. They’re going really well, we’re genuinely changing lives. 

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