Midlands and North to get STEM returners programme

Women Returners and STEM Returners are launching a returners programme for parents and carers with a STEM background, funded by the Government Equality Hub.

Women in STEM


A new returners programme for parents and carers in the Midlands and North with a STEM background has received funding from Government.

Women Returners, in partnership with STEM Returners and funded by the Government Equality Hub, will deliver the STEM ReCharge pilot over the next 18 months. The initiative will provide free-of-charge return to work career coaching, job skills training and sector-specific upskilling and mentoring to 100 returners with tech or engineering experience who have taken career breaks over a year or more.

The STEM ReCharge career coaching and job skills training will address practical and psychological barriers, providing support to rebuild confidence, balance work and caring, write a back to work CV and hone interview skills. Small group sessions will encourage motivating return-to-work support networks.

Participants will also have 1:1 mentoring, a tech or engineering ReFresh Week with updating sessions from industry experts to prepare them for interviews and ongoing support with finding suitable work opportunities and reintegrating into the workforce.

The programme will also provide free training and support for 30 STEM employers in the regions to enable them to better recruit and retain this talent pool who are so often overlooked.

Employer training sessions will aim to improve recruitment processes and the onboarding experience for returners and will inform about best practice in creating inclusive returner programmes. Employer engagement events will take place in hub cities including Birmingham and Leeds in late April for local organisations to find out more about the training and learn from the experience of successful returner employers.

STEM ReCharge is being targeted at the West and East Midlands, the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West after new analysis carried out by Women Returners and STEM Returners showed these areas have far fewer returner programmes than southern areas. From 2020 to 2022 there were 1.6 returner programmes per million people in the Midlands, 2.3 programmes in the North East and Yorkshire and 2.5 programmes in the North West, compared with 7.8 programmes in London and 5.3 programmes in the South West.

The Government Equality Hub estimates there are currently 75,000 people (the majority women) who are economically inactive due to caring responsibilities, who have not worked for at least 12 months, who had a STEM occupation before their career break and who would like to return to work in the future. There are many more STEM professionals working at a lower skill level around their family, who will also be eligible to benefit from the programme.

Julianne Miles, CEO of Women Returners, said: “There is a pressing need in these regions to provide this job-readiness support tailored to parents and carers returning to STEM, together with training for STEM employers to create more supported routes back to work for career returners. We’re confident that this comprehensive programme of support will help to accelerate the removal of the career break penalty in the UK.”

*Applications for STEM ReCharge will open in March. For more information visit https://womenreturners.com/stem-recharge/ or https://www.stemreturners.com/stem-recharge/

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