SSE launches third jobs programme to help STEM professionals return to renewables sector

SSE launches third jobs programme to help STEM professionals return to renewables sector

Natalie Desty

SSE has stepped up its collaboration with return-to-work experts STEM Returners to help more engineers in Scotland re-enter the renewables sector after a career break.

The partnership has launched a third returners programme across SSE’s Transmission and Renewables Teams in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Recruiting to roles such as Project Engineering, Asset Management and Project Management, the programme acts as a ‘returnship’ allowing returners to be reintegrated into an inclusive work environment.

STEM Returners, a leading organisation in the UK in returner programmes, will source candidates and provide them with additional support including advice, career coaching, and mentoring; ensuring applicants are ready and confident to return to work.

This is the third programme between SSE and STEM Returners, after two previous programmes enabled 20 professionals back to work. One of those professionals was Sue, who took had to take a career break to move to Scotland to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. When it was time for her to return to the workplace, she found it an uphill task. But through the STEM Returners programme, she secured a Development Project Manager role with SSE Transmission.

Sue said: “It was daunting, mainly because many years had passed it was a challenge to get my head back into ‘work speak’. I was quite close to starting my own business as it had been a thankless task being rejected out of hand because of the gap. I thought it might not happen. But then I came across the STEM Returners website and literally couldn’t believe my luck that SSE had a programme, up the road in Perth.

“I had fond memories of working for big utility companies and so it felt like returning home. The flexibility of the role was really important to me and the support I’ve received from my Manager has been a major factor in my successful return. Not only have I been supported in finding my feet but also encouraged to find ways to promote and utilise the experiences I have had across my career. In effect we are redefining my original role and that demonstrates the benefit of the returner programme.”

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people who have had career break face, when trying to return – recruitment bias being the main barrier to entry. 66% of STEM professionals on a career break say they are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult and that nearly half (46%) of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience.

Additionally, it is hoped that the new programme will help fill an emerging green energy skills gap. It is estimated that around 200,000 new workers are needed it the UK is to deliver on long-term energy security and meet its energy transition targets.

Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said: “The number of green energy roles is growing across the sector and there is a hidden workforce that can help fill those roles but are often overlooked.

“People who have had a career break face an uphill battle to return to the industry – there is a misconception that a gap on you CV leads to a deterioration of skills but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many returners keep themselves updated with the developments from their industry and have developed transferable skills that can benefit their employers.

“We are very proud to be continuing our strong partnership with SSE to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like SSE will we make vital changes in STEM recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and improve diversity and inclusion.”

Gordon Macfarlane, head of resourcing at SSE said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with STEM Returners for another year. Our collaboration has already delivered remarkable outcomes, and we take great pride in providing support and opportunities to individuals seeking to re-enter the workforce after a career break.

“At SSE, we are deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across all areas, and have been supporting STEM activities for several years. This includes engaging with primary and secondary schools to offering returnships. As we embark on our third year of collaboration with STEM Returners, we look forward to doing more to remove the barriers that put people off returning to or transitioning into the industry.”

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