New initiative aims to help engineers return to sector after career break

Natalie Desty

ENGINEERS and STEM professionals across Scotland who are struggling to return to the sector after a career break can benefit from a new initiative launched by BAE Systems and STEM Returners.

The 12-week returners programme will be based in Glasgow and is the latest in a history of schemes between STEM Returners and BAE Systems which have helped return more than 85 engineers back to the STEM industry.

There will be a total of nine new roles across Naval Ships Engineering in 2023 – six in Glasgow and three launched in southern sites later this year.

STEM Returners will source candidates for the programme, which aims to return or transfer experienced engineers back into industry following a career break. The fully paid placements act as a ‘returnship’.

Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said, “Through our partnership over the years, we have worked together to create a supportive and inclusive environment where returners can really thrive. We are proud to be continuing our partnership with BAE Systems with the launch of this new programme that will provide opportunities for engineers and STEM professionals to return to the sector.”

Stuart Justice, engineering director, BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships, added, “We are really keen to work with STEM Returners again and welcome back skilled resource to the industry. We need qualified engineers now more than ever and have a growing order book for Global Combat Ship meaning there is exciting, long-term work available for people to develop their career.”

Research from STEM Returners has revealed the challenges people who have had a career break face when trying to return. ‘Recruitment bias’ has been cited as the main barrier to entry. 66% of STEM professionals on a career break said they are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult, while 46% of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience.

STEM Returners’ programme aims to eliminate these barriers by giving candidates work experience and mentoring during their placement and helping them adjust to life back in work.

Natalie added, “Engineers who have a career break on their CV are often overlooked for roles due to recruitment bias, but they have the skills, dedication and passion to make a valuable contribution to any company. Only by partnering with industry leaders like BAE, will we make vital changes in STEM recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and improve diversity and inclusion.”

Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 310 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners opportunities, visit