A new guide for employers comes hot on the heels of the government’s new investment in schemes to help returners back into the workplace.
The guide highlights the importance of offering flexible working and rethinking how and where they advertise jobs.
It also recognises the importance of developing a more inclusive and diverse internal culture.
Jeremy Watson, IET President, writes:
“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.”
They want to address what they see as outdated perceptions that career breaks are obstacles and interruptions. The IET states that highly skilled and experienced engineers and other STEM professional wanting to return to the workplace are often side-lined in favour of candidates with continuous service and this is exacerbating the skills shortage.
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.”
Supporting the Step Back into STEM Careers has been published by the IET and Prospect trade union.