The second intake for a free return to work support programme has just been launched in Manchester.
STEM ReCharge provides career coaching, job skills training, mentoring and technical refresh sessions to parents and carers in the Midlands and North of England who want to return to engineering or tech after a career break of a year or more.
The programme is being delivered by expert return to work organisations, Women Returners and STEM Returners. It is funded by the Government Equality Hub and supported by the Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch and the Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield. The first intake of the programme in May supported more than 40 parents and carers. Returners can apply for the next programme starting in October here.
Manchester returner’s experience on the Programme
Manchester-based Arul worked as a Software Tester for 5 years on various automation and manual testing projects across different industries, including banking & finance, investment, and insurance. She took a 2-year career break to care for her family.
On looking to return to work Arul found the journey presented more challenges than she expected, especially in light of the current market downturn, which had created a more competitive job market.
“The STEM ReCharge program has played a pivotal role in preparing me for my return to work. The career coaching and job skills workshops offered invaluable insights and guidance, allowing me to refine my resume, strengthen my interview skills, and stay abreast of the latest industry trends. The STEM ReFresh week sessions provided a wealth of information and networking opportunities, connecting me with professionals across various fields. The mentoring support has been truly invaluable, offering personalised guidance and support, bolstering my confidence every step of the way. The program has equipped me with the tools and resources needed to navigate the job market with confidence and readiness. I would describe the STEM ReCharge program as a comprehensive and empowering platform specifically designed for individuals returning to the workforce. By providing a holistic approach to professional development and support, STEM ReCharge empowers returners to overcome challenges, build new connections, enhance their skills, and thrive in their chosen fields“.
Tech and Engineering Industry Growth
Estimates from Microsoft suggest that, globally, there will be 149 million new jobs in software, data, AI, machine learning and cyber by 2025. The latest UK projections suggest a net growth in engineering roles of 2.8% compared to 2.3% in all occupations, which will result in 173,000 new engineering and technology jobs by 2030*.
Home to a thriving £5bn digital ecosystem, Manchester is the UK’s Top Digital Tech City and the fastest growing Tech city in Europe***. As more Manchester tech companies are created, and the existing ones continue to expand, it is crucial to harness all the local talent with the core skills to allow the sector to innovate and grow.
As such, there is a pressing need to support local qualified STEM professionals, the majority of whom are women, back to work. A recent report from Tech Talent Charter and Code first Girls stated that half of women in tech drop out by the age of 35**. Parents and carers often face an uphill battle when trying to return to professional-level work after a long career break, facing a range of challenges from a lack of self-confidence to widespread recruiter bias against people without recent experience.
STEM ReCharge tackles these barriers with a comprehensive programme of coaching, training and mentoring as well as making connections with employers. The project is also training local employers to be more inclusive of returners in their recruitment practices.
Julianne Miles, CEO of Women Returners, said: “It’s fantastic to see that we’re already making such a strong impact with the STEM ReCharge support programme. After a decade of supporting professionals to return to work, we’re well aware of the multiple challenges returners face, particularly in technical fields. With our first STEM ReCharge cohort, we’re already seeing the power of a targeted support programme, rebuilding confidence, skills, knowledge and networks, to enable these talented returners to get back into great jobs. We’re really looking forward to welcoming the second cohort in October.”
Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said: “To see the positive impact STEM ReCharge is already having is very rewarding. As an industry, we need to do more to increase the opportunity for returners in STEM and lower the barriers they face when they try to resume their careers. We would like to encourage returners and employers to take advantage of this free programme and work together to help more parents and carers return to work.”