19 JUN 2023


Jacobs is stepping up its collaboration with STEM Returners, a company which supports people restarting their careers after a break. 

STEM Returners, which focuses on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will source experienced engineering and project management professionals for fully paid, 12-week placements. These “returnships” allow candidates to refresh their skills and gain valuable experience that can help them transition back into the workforce full time. Jacobs has pledged to fill 50 such roles across the UK including in London, Bristol, Gloucester, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Karen McCormack completed the programme in 2021 and is now a project manager at Jacobs. She took a career break to look after her baby and spent 12 years away from the industry. Despite years of engineering experience in Scotland, Norway and Asia, she found it challenging to get back into the workforce. 

“I would hear absolutely nothing back, not even a rejection, just nothing at all,” explained McCormack. 

“To say it was disheartening is an understatement. But I saw in STEM Returners the possibility of a lifeline and the team were hugely supportive. I have had the opportunity to take part in several training courses designed to reskill or upskill.”

The UK has an estimated shortfall of over 173,000 workers in STEM-related jobs, with an average of 10 unfilled roles per business costing the economy £1.5bn each year. 

“STEM Returners enables us to bring highly talented individuals back into the workplace, with strong technical skills and broader life experiences. This brings new diversity of thought and helps us create innovative solutions for our clients,” said Jacobs’ inclusion and diversity director Europe, Melissa Godfray. 

“In February, we augmented our 40:40:20 gender balance commitment (40% men, 40% women and 20% open to any gender) to specifically include leadership positions. STEM Returners will help us increase diverse talent in mid-senior level positions and enhances Jacobs’ leading-edge approach to driving inclusion and diversity.”  

STEM Returners director Natalie Desty added: “Only by partnering with industry leaders like Jacobs will we make vital changes in STEM recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector, reduce the skills gap and improve inclusion and diversity.”


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