To return to work successfully, talent can need upskilling, confidence, and help with job searches.
Electronics distribution firm RS Components and STEM Returners, an organisation that helps employers recruit, develop and retain the best talent, have launched a STEM jobs scheme focused on helping talent return to work after a career break.
With STEM-related industries involving constant innovation and the use of new technologies, these returners likely need more support than others.
Making return to work inclusive for STEM candidates
According to The STEM Returners Index, 61% of STEM professionals on a career break say they are finding the process of attempting to return to work either “difficult or very difficult.” Another 36% of returners say they have felt bias in the recruitment process, a barrier to returning to their career.
The programme launched by the two UK-based companies wants to make it easier for candidates to return to work in STEM by giving them real work experience and mentoring.
The 12-week placement is fully virtual, allowing for greater candidate accessibility, including talent from Europe. Upon completion of the course, they can discuss their needs regarding whether a full or part-time role would suit them at RS Components with their “agile” work environment.
STEM Returners will source the candidates for the programme, who will be fully paid on the placements. The positions available include Associate roles through to Senior Software Engineers, as well as Engineering Manager and Technical Leads.
Since its launch in 2017, over 200 candidates have participated in STEM Returners’ programmes across the UK, with 96% of candidates receiving full-time roles after the programme.
Helping women return to work in STEM
The remote nature of the programme and the opportunity to undertake part-time roles open up opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM, including women and, notably, working mothers.
With many leaving work during the middle of their careers for caregiving responsibilities, the gender diversity of the talent pipeline across all sectors is compromised.
Government data showed that in 2019, there were one million women in core-STEM occupations, with
over 50,000 women in professional engineering professional roles, which almost doubled from 2009.
STEM employers offering flexible working options, such as part-time roles, could encourage more qualified women to return to this sector in roles that suit them and their wider lives.
Following the impact of COVID-19 and remote working, working parents generally could benefit from remote or part-time positions, allowing them more time with their families. As previously, a lack of these options may have stopped them from returning to the workplace after a break.
Natalie Desty, Founder and Director of STEM Returners, said: “We are really proud to be working with RS Components and pleased that this is the first fully online programme.
“Many companies have adapted well to home working over the past 18 months due to the pandemic. While there are lots of engineering firms that need people to carry out their roles on site, there are STEM roles that can be done remotely.
“Embracing this way of working will help remove the barriers that prevent people from getting back into a job after a career break and encourage more people who want or need to work from home to apply for our schemes.”