female engineer

Engineers returning to work after career break boosted by new partnership

Image credit: Dreamstime

One of the UK’s leading nuclear engineering consultancies, Aquila, has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to help engineers return to the sector after a career break.

Aquila Nuclear Engineering, a Cyclife EDF group subsidiary, will offer a pilot STEM Returners programme at their site near Winchester, Hampshire, starting with the role of senior mechanical design engineer. The role will be open to engineers who have struggled to return to their career through standard recruitment channels.

STEM Returners programmes act as a ‘returnship’, allowing candidates to be re-integrated into an inclusive environment upon their return to STEM.

Annual research from STEM Returners (published as 'The STEM Returners Index') has revealed the challenges that engineers face when looking to return to work following a career break. Recruitment bias is shown to be the main barrier to entry.

The STEM Returners’ programme aims to eliminate such barriers by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their paid short-term employment placements, as well as helping them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work. Alongside the experience gained from the placement, the STEM Returners project also provides support for the candidate in advice, career coaching, networking opportunities and mentoring. All of the candidates going through the programme have the opportunity to restart their career in a permanent position at the end of the programme.

Whilst the scheme helps solve the problem of sourcing talent in sectors with a shortage of skilled professionals, it also has the added benefit of increasing diversity in a host organisation. STEM Returners’ population of experienced professionals attempting to return to work are 51 per cent female and 38 per cent from black and minority ethnic groups, compared to 10 per cent female and 6 per cent BME working in the STEM industry. STEM Returners is co-supported by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the Women’s Engineering Society.

Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said: “We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with Aquila, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like Aquila will we make vital changes in STEM recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and improve diversity and inclusion.”

Aquila Nuclear Engineering, a Cyclife EDF group subsidiary, delivers projects across a range of domestic and international nuclear market sectors, from the design concept stage through to manufacturing, testing, installation and commissioning.

Grace McMullan, the company's recruitment advisor, said: “At Aquila Nuclear Engineering, we strive to break down barriers and build an inclusive and diverse workforce. We support those who have taken a career break and aim to get them back into their chosen profession. We have recently formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to help engineers get back into work and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Successful candidates may be offered full-time positions at Aquila upon the completion of their 12-week placement.

There is currently a recognised skills shortage in the UK engineering industry, but despite a clear need for people, professionals who have had a career break are often overlooked. STEM Returners recently launched the 2022 STEM Returners Index, which invites engineers to share their opinions to better understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the sector after a career break.

The survey is open to all STEM professionals who have had a gap in their career, who are attempting to return to work, or who have recently returned to work. It is anonymous and asks a variety of questions including reasons for a career break, what challenges were faced when attempting to return to work and any impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on finding a role.

Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, nearly 250 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK. Details of the latest STEM Returners availabilities with Aquila are available online.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles