finance

New job scheme aims to support STEM workers return after a career break



People working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across Scotland have been given the opportunity to break through the so-called ‘career break curse’ after a new job scheme has been launched.

SSE and BAE Systems have teamed up with STEM Returners to establish a 12-week paid placement to help people return to work after a career break.

The Returners Programme at SSE will provide jobs in Glasgow, Perth, Inverness and Aberdeen across its renewables, transmission and distribution businesses, while a separate programme runs concurrently in its thermal operations.

The BAE Systems programme will be at its site in Glasgow, with a focus on maritime engineering specific roles.

This is not the first time BAE Systems’ has run the Returners Programme – the previous maritime returners programme saw a 100% success rate of participants being retained in permanent positions.

The firms have launched their schemes at the same time as STEM Returners release the results of its annual survey of a nationally representative group of more than 750 STEM professionals on a career break who are attempting to return to work or who have recently returned to work.

It found that 27% of women feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their gender, compared to 8% of men, while 30% of women said they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to childcare responsibilities, compared to 6% of men.

Both men (39%) and women (43%) said they felt have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to a perceived lack of recent experience.

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Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said: “The UK engineering industry needs to recruit 182,000 engineers annually to keep up with demand, but despite this very clear and desperate skills shortage, 61% of STEM professionals on a career break are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult and women are bearing the brunt of this challenge.

“There is a perception that a career break automatically leads to a deterioration of skills, but the reality is that many people on a career break keep themselves up to date with their industry, are able to refresh their skills easily when back in work and have developed new transferable skills that would actually benefit their employers.”

John Stewart, director of HR at SSE, said: “There is real momentum behind the drive to build a clean green recovery, but we need the people to help us do it, STEM Returners will become a vital tool in helping us reach skilled employees who will be a real asset to SSE.”

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