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A new guide published today provides advice to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) employers on how to attract a wider talent pool, including career returners.
Supporting the step back into STEM careers is published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Prospect trade union and includes best practice tips on flexible working, rethinking how and where employers advertise jobs; explaining to recruitment agencies that they welcome returners; and developing a more inclusive and diverse internal culture.
It also highlights what it calls outdated perceptions that career breaks are obstacles and interruptions – and says highly skilled and experienced engineers and other STEM professional wanting to return to the workplace are often sidelined in favour of candidates with continuous service, exacerbating the skills shortage.
Jeremy Watson, IET President, said: “The guide comes hot on the heels of the government’s new investment in schemes to help returners back into the workplace. As the engineering skills shortage continues to grow, our sector must move away from the misconception that career breaks get in the way and are a problem.
“Instead, STEM employers should view career breaks as periods of self-development and develop a culture that accommodates and values these breaks and the skills and competence of those members of staff that are currently being overlooked and side-lined.”
Sue Ferns, Deputy General Secretary at Prospect, the union for professionals, said: “Engineering still faces significant challenges of gender segregation and, particularly at a time of skill shortages and gaps, needs to draw on all of the UK’s talents and expertise.
Having a positive approach to engaging with returners can have significant business benefits as well as supporting individuals to achieve their full potential. As our new guidance shows, there are lots of small practical actions that can be taken to make this happen. Prospect is delighted to have partnered with the IET and looks forward to working together to make a positive difference.”