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A parliamentary inquiry into diverse representation in STEM employers found the sector could be missing out on vital talent. Challenging biases about returners in the industry could help, writes Natalie Desty.
Everyone who works in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) role knows one simple fact – there are not enough of us.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has estimated that UK engineering employers need to recruit 182,000 engineers annually to keep up with demand and suggested that firms need to double its recruitment of graduates and apprentices to meet the shortfall.
We also know that there is a distinct lack of diversity and inclusion across STEM industries. Currently, just one in 10 engineers are female and BAME engineers make up just 7% of the workforce, despite making up 27% of graduates.
To recruit thousands of new engineers every year and improve the diversity of those recruits seems like an uphill task, but there is a hidden workforce with thousands of talented professionals who could help solve these issues but are being overlooked every day.
This hidden workforce are the thousands of engineering and STEM professionals who have had a career break.
These talented, educated and dedicated people find it incredibly difficult to get a job and are the victims of outdated recruitment methods that prevent them from getting an interview, let alone being offered the role.
Our annual STEM Returners Index polls a nationally representative group of over 750 STEM professionals who are on a career break and attempting to return to work or have recently returned.