The success of our 2016 pilot demonstrates that paid returnships provide an effective way to provide a pathway back into STEM employment.

Sarah McNulty, Director of HR Operations at ScottishPower said:

“With the ever increasing skills gap in STEM, employers must look at more innovative ways to reduce the skills gap and attract future employees.  ScottishPower are once again proud to be partnering with Equate Scotland to provide opportunities for women who are skilled in these disciplines to help them return to their chosen careers”. 

The value of Women Returners to STEM businesses
There is a growing consensus that employers of scientific, technical and engineering (STEM) staff face a skills crisis that is restricting economic growth. According to the Royal Society, one million more new STEM professionals are required by 2020 and it is estimated that women’s participation in the STEM sectors in Scotland is worth over £71 million pounds a year to the Scottish economy.

The majority of businesses are taking steps to recruit more young people to tackle current and anticipated skills shortages. But it would be short-sighted to ignore the talent pool of women qualified in STEM but not currently working in a STEM occupation. This ‘leakage’ of qualified and experienced women represents a significant, untapped pool of talent.

What Equate Scotland can provide for Employers

  • Access to a talent pool of experienced women returners
  • Training and ‘getting ready for work’ support for women returners (including two workshops, two career clinics each, and webinars) before, during and after placements
  • Unconscious bias training to help you achieve an equalities-led culture and environment
  • Support for Managers, E&D and HR teams to create induction plans for returners

As we already have a full talent pool of 40 women, the process from advertising a placement to selecting the right candidate should only take 4-6 weeks. The first placements were advertised in May and as at 31 July 2017 three have been filled with further interviews scheduled.  We are still recruiting employers, especially to offer placements to our female scientists.

We know that businesses in Scotland are keen to lead the way in addressing current gender imbalances and become role models for best practice. Retaining existing talent and expertise within the STEM industry, through successful returners, is a cost effective solution and Equate can support employers to understand how to get the most benefit from this new recruitment approach.

Rosie MacRae, HR Programmes Manager at SSE, said:

“This is an exciting initiative and one which we are proud to take part in. SSE, along with other employers in the energy sector, is facing a significant skills shortage in the next 5 to 10 years. The research carried out as part of this project shows us that there is an extensive and highly skilled pool of women who could help to fill that gap, given the opportunity and the right support. We are confident that much will be gained over the coming months both by us and by the women we will be working with”.