STEM Returners

STEM Returners was founded in 2017 in response to a growing skills gap in UK STEM industries. We discovered a recruitment system that is broken, contributing to a shocking lack of diversity in STEM organisations. 

Highly skilled STEM professionals get overlooked when attempting to return from a career break, struggling to make progress via traditional recruitment channels. Why? Unconscious bias at the shortlisting stage, hiring pressures leading to assumptions made on limited information, and the common misconception that a ‘CV gap’ equates to a deterioration of skills. These hidden barriers mean talented professionals are being left behind, and this needs to change. 

How do we help?  

We’ve now helped over 270 engineers return to work across the UK. We provide STEM Professionals with a supported route back into the career they worked hard to build. Plus advice, career coaching, networking opportunities and mentoring to ensure they are ready and confident to return. We do this through partnering with STEM organisations to run paid, short-term returner programmes (with the aim of a permanent job at the end of the programme), enabling professionals to return to an equitable and inclusive STEM sector.  

  • 96% of the Returners who completed the STEM Returners programme have now secured a permanent position within their host organisation  
  • 46% of STEM Returners are women vs 14% of professional engineers  
  • 34% are from minority ethnic groups vs 9% of engineers  
  • 100% of all companies who have taken part in a programme have successfully recruited Returners as a result 


To find out more about STEM Returners and current programme opportunities, please visit our website 

2022 Research – The STEM Returners Index 

The STEM Returners Index 2022 is the latest instalment in our series of annual studies. Each year we aim to understand experiences and attitudes in our industry, by speaking to a nationally representative group of 1,000 STEM professionals. We use this information to help highlight the issues our industry faces amidst a growing skills gap and a lack of diversity. 

The Stem Returners Index can be found here