New figures suggest women are starting to break through the so-called “career break barrier” to get jobs with major UK engineering firms.
One Hampshire company responsible for the “STEM Returners” programme aimed at getting qualified engineers back to work, says it has so far helped 75 people get jobs after career breaks – and 50% of those have been women.
This is an industry where only 1 in 10 engineering posts are held by women.
The early success of this special recruitment programme, revealed on International Women in Engineering Day is being seen as important step to help plug the skills gap facing this UK sector.
The programme is also on offer to those people who want to transfer jobs to work in engineering but who lack relevant work experience.
Those business leading the charge to recruit via the returners programme include Babcock, BAE Systems, BT, Cavendish Nuclear , Meggitt, Fluor and the MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.
“There are lots of initiatives to cater for the next generation of STEM workers but the STEM Returners programme is aimed specifically at those wishing to go back to engineering mid-career, “said Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners in Lyndhurst. “From these small seeds we’re hoping it will grow even more.”
One single mother helped by the programme was 35-year-old Tamsin Dobson. A former marine engineer who worked at sea and lectured in engineering, she was turned down three times for engineering jobs in the traditional interview / CV screening process.
To take the 13-week returners course at Babcock in Bristol, she even gambled by moving home. Her reward was a full-time job as marine engineer, working on submarine systems for Babcock’s overseas clients.
“STEM Returners was set up for people just like me, and it was great to finally see a scheme that recognised that not everyone follows the same career route, “she said.
While no official figures are available of women returning to engineering after a mid-career break, the UK’s Women in Engineering Society has estimated up to 20,000 qualified female engineers could potentially fill many job vacancies after career breaks.