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Thales in the UK launches second STEM Returners programme

Global technology company Thales in the UK has teamed up with STEM Returners for a second time to continue their drive to help engineers return to work after a career break.

Image courtesy Thales

Thales in the UK - which develops high-tech solutions, services and products for the aerospace, defence, security, space and transport sectors - will provide a STEM Returners programme at their sites in Cheadle, Crawley and Templecombe for up to 10 professionals. Roles will include Systems Engineer, Software Engineer and Hardware Engineer.

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The new programme follows a successful pilot in 2022, during which Hayley Holguin (left) secured a position as a Systems Engineer. After seven years of experience in the aviation industry and a degree in Mechanical and Power Plant Systems, Hayley took redundancy during the pandemic. She found it difficult to find a new role so took a job in a local school.

“Once everything started to pick up again, I wanted to go back into engineering,” she said. “It can be daunting going to a new job but even more so after some time away, you worry if you will remember everything, if you are still able to work at the standard you did before and how you will adjust to the work environment again.

“When I saw the ad for STEM Returners, I felt a sense of relief because it is something for people specifically in that situation so there is the support and understanding on both sides.”

During her 12-week placement, Hayley was provided with a mentor and extra support to transition back into work. Her role has now been made permanent.  

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people face when trying to return to work following a career break, with recruitment bias shown to be the main barrier to entry. It also shows women trying to return to industry are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men.

STEM Returners’ programmes aim to eliminate these barriers by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement, as well as supporting them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work.

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Natalie Desty (above), Director of STEM Returners said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Thales in the UK, who share in our commitment to increase equality in STEM and improve the way people who are on a career break return to work.

“There is a misconception that a career break leads to a deterioration of skills but that could not be further from the truth. Only by working together, will we make vital changes in recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector.”

Andrew Malone, Engineering Director at Thales in the UK, said: “As our business continues to grow, the STEM Returners programme is a key provider to our engineering growth with a previously hidden pool of talent who are experienced, educated, skilled and bring a level of diversity to further enhance our engineering capability.

"We would love for the STEM returners to be part of our team, as we deliver our highly complex systems, products and services to our clients, building a future we can all trust.”

Since STEM Returners first launched in 2017, more than 475 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners’ opportunities, visit: www.stemreturners.com/placements

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