CPI Enterprises, a leading technology innovation centre based in the north east of England and Glasgow has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to help provide a route for highly qualified professionals to return or transfer back to the STEM industry after a career break.
CPI brings together academia, businesses, government, and investors to translate bright ideas and research into the marketplace by giving customers access to the right experts, equipment, funding and more.
Working with STEM Returners, CPI will offer a 12-week placement programme to three individuals wanting to return to industry. The first of these placements will be in the health tech sector, based in Sedgefield. The fully paid placements act as a ‘returnship’, allowing candidates to be re-integrated into an inclusive environment upon their return to STEM.
There is a well-known skills shortage in the UK STEM industry, but despite a clear need for people, professionals who have had a career break are often overlooked. In the 2022 STEM Returners’ annual survey – The STEM Returners Index – 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 and that nearly half (46%) of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience.
The STEM Returners’ programme aims to eliminate barriers, by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement and helping them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work.
Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners said: “We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with CPI, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like CPI, 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.”
Amy Smith, Chief People Officer of CPI said: “The STEM Returners Programme presents an incredible opportunity for our industry to tap into a vast pool of untapped talent and expertise. By welcoming back experienced professionals who have taken a career break, we not only diversify our workforce but also inject fresh perspectives and innovative thinking into CPI. Embracing the STEM Returners Programme is not just a commitment to inclusivity; it is a strategic investment in our industry’s future success. Together, we build a brighter future, one STEM career at a time.”
Whilst the scheme helps solve the problem of sourcing talent in sectors that need it, it also has the added benefit of increasing diversity in a host organisation. STEM Returners’ population of experienced professionals who are attempting to return to work are 46% female and 44% from ethnic minority groups, compared to 14% female and 9% from ethnic minority groups working in industry.
Successful candidates may be offered full-time positions at CPI upon the completion of their 12-week placement. Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 400 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK.