Supporting people back to STEM roles

National Grid is stepping up its collaboration with STEM Returners to launch a second return-to-work programme.

The FTSE 100 business which sits at the heart of the UK’s energy system’s transition to next zero and employs 30,000 people, is launching the new programme today (29 November).

The programme, which will help seven STEM professionals return to work after a career break, is an extension of the scheme launched last year, as part of National Grid’s Grid for Good ‘Accelerate’ initiative, which saw five people return to the workplace.

The 12-week paid placement aims to help individuals struggling to return to their career through standard recruitment channels, enabling them to access training and employment opportunities in the energy sector.

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The first programme helped five people back to industry including Tiffany Orton, who took a career break to relocate from London to Warwickshire to raise a family. With 20 years of valuable experience in commercial property behind her, she still found it an uphill challenge when trying to return to her career. She completed the first STEM Returners programme at National Grid and accepted a permanent position in surveying with National Grid Ventures and now works as a senior surveyor within National Grid Strategic Infrastructure.

Tiffany said: “STEM Returners prised the door open for me and has given me confidence in my skill set. National Grid has been extremely supportive, giving me time to find my feet, as well as investing in further training which has helped to expand my professional skills. It’s been a great opportunity.”

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people who have had career break face, when trying to return – recruitment bias being the main barrier to entry. More than half (51%) 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 38% of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said: “The number of green energy roles is growing across the sector and there is a hidden workforce that can help fill those roles but are often overlooked.

“People who have a had a career break face an uphill battle to return to the industry – there is a misconception that a gap on you CV leads to a deterioration of skills but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many returners keep themselves updated with the developments from their industry and have developed transferable skills that can benefit their employers.

“We are very proud to be continuing our partnership with National Grid to provide an inclusive platform to bring professionals back to the industry and bridge the skills gap.”

Janet Morrow, Head of Responsible Business at National Grid said “We are committed to improving the diversity and social mobility of our workforce across the communities in which we operate and serve.

“The partnership with STEM Returners has provided an opportunity to reach skilled individuals who are keen to re-join the sector, allowing us to harness their skills and experiences.  We already know that the transition to net zero will create thousands of green jobs, which is why programmes such as STEM Returners are so important.”

Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 450 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK.

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