3 April 2024

New survey assesses impact of a career break for STEM professionals

STEM Returners has launched its annual survey to understand professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the workplace after a career break.

© STEM Returners

The survey is anonymous and asks a range of questions including reasons for a career break and what challenges were faced when attempting to return to work.

The results will enable STEM Returners to further understand the barriers people face, track the progress UK STEM industries are making, and shine a light on the change needed to create fair opportunities for all.

This is the fifth Index launched by STEM Returners, which facilitates paid short-term employment placements with industry leaders like Wates, BAE Systems, EDF, Leonardo and Boeing to help return highly qualified and experienced STEM professionals back to work after a career break.

Returners can be any age, ethnicity, come from any background and importantly can have any length of break on their CV.

More than 1000 people completed last year’s survey, which showed women who were trying to return to the engineering industry after a career break were more likely to experience recruitment bias than men. 

Professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds represented a large proportion (39%) of candidates attempting to return to work in 2023. They were twice as likely as all other ethnic groups (34% vs average of 17%) to feel they have experienced bias in a recruitment process related to race or ethnicity, according to the report.

Both men (29%) and women (25%) said they felt they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their age.

As a result, 30% of returners said their personal confidence has been affected by the recruitment challenges they face, and their low confidence remains a barrier.

The 2024 STEM Returners Index survey will be open until 30 June 2024.

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