After returning scores of engineers back to work following career breaks, STEM Returners is delighted to announce that we are bringing the same successful formula to Australia.
STEM Returners has so far helped 150 people get full time engineering jobs via its special Diversity & Inclusion programme – 50% of these women, and a third from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In the UK industry where only 1 in 10 engineering posts are held by women, the new recruitment approach is being seen as a game changer to help plug future skills gaps and improve diversity. A challenge also faced by STEM career programmes in Australia. According to the latest Engineers Australia Statistical Overview report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data estimates the proportion of qualified female engineers in the workplace was 2018 was 12.4 per cent – down from 13.4 per cent in 2017. This trend has been in decline since 2012 and continues to head on a downward trajectory.
In the post COVID-19 era, it is anticipated the need for returners programmes will increase due to the disproportionate impact it has had on women. A report by the Rapid Research Information Forum highlights the impact of COVID-19 on the STEM sector in Australia where it cited that Women are more vulnerable to job loss due to their over representation in less secure positions of employment in STEM, and those working in STEM with children at home were more likely to care for them full-time on their own than men.
Leading UK companies have taken part in the 13-week programme including Babcock, BAE Systems, British Telecom (BT), Cavendish Nuclear, Meggitt, Fluor and the UK Ministry of Defence.
Across all UK STEM Returner programmes, 96% of all returners who started a programme have gone on to secure a permanent position with the host employer. It has also been offered to those people who want to transfer jobs to work in engineering but who lack relevant work or industry experience.
A recent survey by the STEM Returners found over 8 of 10 people seeking to return to posts in the engineering industry felt they had suffered from “biased” recruiting. Two thirds felt the traditional CV based recruitment process worked against them.
Most returners successfully placed through the programme were educated to Bachelors, Masters or PhD level and 46% had over 10 years engineering experience. Most had taken career breaks due to maternity or caring responsibilities, ill health, redundancy or relocation. Just under half were away from work for 2 years or less.
“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, founder of STEM Returners. “We are delighted to be launching the programme in Australia which shares many of the same diversity challenges in STEM as in the UK”
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. Tasmin was turned down many times for engineering jobs in the traditional interview / CV screening process. She gambled by moving home and took the special returners course at Babcock. 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.
With major government investment in the Defence sector in Australia planned over the coming decades, thousands of new jobs will be created. This is the perfect time to readdress the balance and increase diversity in this new workforce.
Marcail Roe will be heading up STEM Returners in Australia. As a two time return to work mum herself, Marcail knows the barriers and challenges faced by women re-entering the workplace. The STEM Returners programme provides ongoing support and mentoring through the onboarding process.