Edinburgh aerospace giant offers STEM returners a route back to work

Aerospace engineering company Leonardo has teamed up with STEM Returners to offer vital new opportunities for returning STEM professionals in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

STEM returners getting back to the frontline

The company, which employs over 7500 people across the UK, is keen to recruit experienced engineers whose skill sets are needed to fulfil a number of roles across their long-term programmes, set to run to 2040.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, Leonardo - which has a workforce of 2000 at its site in Crewe Toll, Edinburgh, has continued to provide resources and people in support of national institutions’ management and containment of the pandemic. In addition, employees have volunteered to produce PPE to NHS staff across the UK.

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Leonardo’s new 12-week STEM Returners programme will help people with STEM skills to restart their career and all returners who take part will have the opportunity to gain a full-time position with the company. The programme is open to women and men who have taken any length of career break, as well as those who wish to transfer sectors but don’t yet have the relevant work experience.

STEM returners: Dr Carol Marsh, OBE

The scheme gives engineers the perfect opportunity to overcome what is being referred to in the industry as the “career break curse” at a time when traditional recruitment methods are failing to address the sector’s skills gap.

The STEM Returners programmes provide a 12-week paid placement for engineers to show their application and ability on a practical level, whilst giving firms the opportunity to test competencies in an ‘on the job’ setting. To date, 96 per cent of returners across all programmes have returned to the industry permanently.

Currently, women hold only one in 10 UK engineering posts and only three out of 50 are BAME (black and minority ethnic). The STEM Returners programme has previously comprised 46 per cent female engineers, whilst nearly a third came from an ethnic minority background.

STEM Returners recently conducted a study with the help of 350 engineers. The report, titled ‘STEM: The Hidden Workforce’ found that two-thirds of engineers believe the recruitment process works against them.

But with STEM Returners’ innovative programme, these same engineers are given an opportunity, with 12-week fully paid placements to show their true value to firms. Leonardo has become the latest organisation to commit to a new diversity focused returners programme.

Leonardo’s Deputy Head of Electronics Engineering, Dr Carol Marsh, believes it is important for STEM Returners to keep in touch with former colleagues to maintain their network, which can allow them to learn of new opportunities. Because she had maintained contact with her former team at Leonardo throughout her career, they were keen to call her in for an interview when they learned she had completed her studies and immediately offered her a role.

She said: “You are always an engineer and the skills you learn are still valuable, even when you aren’t doing an engineering role. You acquire transferrable skills in other areas of your life. Diversity drives innovation and gives us the competitive edge, so experienced engineers from a diverse range of backgrounds are very valuable to our business.”

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