STEM professionals invited to take part in ‘return to work’ survey

The last survey found that many felt bias during recruitment after taking a career break

STEM Returners has launched its annual survey to understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the sector after a career break and is open until 30 April 2022.

The STEM Returners Index is open to all STEM professionals who have had a gap in their career or are attempting to return to work, or have recently returned to work.

The survey is anonymous and will ask questions including the reasons for a career break, what challenges were faced when trying to return to work and the impact of COVID-19 on job-seeking.

This is the third Index launched by STEM Returners, which partners with employers to return experienced and diverse STEM professionals to work after a career break via paid short-term employment placements.

Last year’s survey results revealed that STEM career returners faced personal bias during recruitment due to taking a career break, as well as due to their gender, race and ethnicity.

Respondents, including both men (39%) and women (43%) felt they had experienced bias in the recruitment processes due to a “perceived lack of recent experience”.

In addition to this, nearly a third of female respondents said they had experienced bias in the recruitment process due to their gender, while 22% of respondents said they feel they have experienced bias during recruitment due to their race or ethnicity.

Additionally, 67% of BAME respondents said they are finding it “difficult or very difficult” to return to work.

To combat the hiring deficit among those wanting to return to a STEM career, STEM Returners have set up work placement programmes with global STEM-sector firms including BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Babcock International and SSE, with more than 200 candidates joining programmes across the UK to access relevant work experience and mentorship.

Founder and Director of STEM Returners Natalie Desty said: “We know that the UK engineering industry needs hundreds of engineers annually to keep up with demand, but despite this need, there is a pool of STEM professionals on a career break who find it incredibly challenging to return to work – recruitment bias being the main barrier to entry.

“We want to get more insight into the challenges STEM professionals face when wanting to return to work and how the last two years of the pandemic has affected that process. We can use this valuable information to work with employers and improve their recruitment processes and enable them to see that a gap in someone’s CV does not automatically lead to a deterioration of skills.

“I would like to personally encourage any STEM professional who has had a career break to take part in the survey and tell us about their experiences. Our last Index had more than 750 respondents, this year we’d like to get more than 1000.”

To complete the 2022 STEM Returners Index, click here.

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