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A free programme aims to help people in the Midlands and the North of England who want to get back into their careers after a break.
A government-funded “returner programme” for the engineering and tech sectors has opened for applications today, to help parents and carers get back into these industries after a career break.
The free scheme is run by Women Returners and STEM Returners, two specialist organisations that help people who want to get back into their careers after an extended break. It is open to people in the Midlands and the North of England.
In the UK there are currently around 75,000 STEM professionals who are economically inactive due to caring responsibilities, but who would like to return to work in the future, according to government figures. The majority of this group are women.
The returner scheme, which is taking applications now for sessions that will begin in October, offers career coaching, job skills training, and technical refresher sessions. It is also training local employers to be more inclusive of returners in their recruitment practices.
“As an industry, we need to do more to increase the opportunity for returners in STEM and lower the barriers they face when they try to resume their careers,” Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said in a statement.
“We would like to encourage returners and employers to take advantage of this free programme and work together to help more parents and carers return to work.”
Several recent studies have highlighted the lack of gender diversity in tech in particular. Just over one in ten tech middle-managers in the UK are women, and the average length of time that women stay in tech jobs is shorter than that of men, according to research this year by tech talent company Revolent.
Around half of women in tech leave the sector by the time they are 35, according to a 2020 report on the US tech sector by the consultancy Accenture and Girls Who Code.
Women Returners and STEM Returners’ scheme aims to help tackle this lack of diversity. The project provided sessions for 42 parents and carers in its first cohort earlier this year. The October group will be its second cohort.
Returner programmes have been running for some years in a range of sectors, with increasing numbers in the tech sector in recent years. You can find more schemes and apply via Workingmums.co.uk here.