Engineers in Hampshire have been given the opportunity to break through the so-called ‘career break curse’ with UK defence and security giants BAE Systems.
The multinational firm, who has two sites in Portsmouth, has teamed up again with us at STEM Returners, to provide programmes for engineers looking to return to work following a career break – providing a new group of engineering returners the opportunity to return, starting in early 2020.
The recruitment programme is being seen as an important step to help plug the skills gap facing the UK STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors. When BAE Systems decided to run a pilot programme in 2018 and a subsequent one last year, 100% of those who were successful in joining the programme have been retained in permanent positions.
The opportunities are also on offer to those people who want to transfer jobs to work in engineering but lack the relevant work experience. It also provides engineers a chance to transfer to a different discipline if they are looking for a career change.
“There are lots of initiatives to cater to 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.
The returners programme offers STEM workers a 12 week paid placement at BAE in their Maritime Division, this programme is searching for returners with the following skills:
- Systems Engineers (Physics/Maths background)
- Software Engineers
- Digital Electronics Engineers
- Electrical/Electronics Engineers
- Radio Frequency Engineers
- Field Service Engineers (Radar/Naval/Weapons background)
- Electrical Engineers
- Mechanical Engineers
- ILS Engineers
- Combat/Mission System Engineers
- Civil Engineers
- Naval Architects
Following the 12-week programme, all returners who take part will have the opportunity to gain a full-time position with BAE Systems.
The programme also aims to reduce the gender gap in Engineering, with only 1 in 10 engineering posts in the industry held by women.
One returner who took part in BAE Systems Portsmouth’s pilot programme, Dorota Lipinska, struggled to find a role in engineering despite having a master’s degree.
“I was working and volunteering but not in the engineering field. Whilst volunteering I was constantly looking for opportunities within my profession, and when I found out about STEM Returners, I decided to try and get into engineering with their help.”
After being selected for the 12-week programme at BAE Systems’ main site in Portsmouth, Dorota showed her skills and value, something that traditional recruitment methods had previously missed.
Her reward was a life-changing opportunity to become a permanent Design Engineer working on a variety of defence projects.
“My dream came true!
“My skills were recognised and I finally started my career in engineering. I can now continue to develop and at the same time add value to the company.”
Dorota is just one of the female engineers STEM Returners have placed back into the industry, overall the programme continues to buck national trends. 46% of the intake across all returners’ programmes are women, a vast improvement on the estimated 10-12% of female engineers across the UK workforce.
While no official figures are available of women returning to engineering after a mid-career break, the UK’s Women in Engineering Society estimate up to 20,000 qualified female engineers could potentially fill many job vacancies after career breaks.
Dr Graham Farnell, the Engineering Director of BAE Systems Maritime, has embraced the benefits of the pilot scheme ahead of the latest programme launch.
“Finding exceptional talent to help us deliver first class engineering and technical support to our customers is fundamental to our business.
“The work we do across the engineering disciplines to design, build, maintain and upgrade ships, and the support and equipment we provide to people, is absolutely vital in assisting the Royal Navy achieve its operational commitments on behalf of the UK across the globe.”
You can view all the opportunities available at BAE Systems in Portsmouth here.