Rolls-Royce forms new partnership to support STEM professionals’ return to industry

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Rolls-Royce has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to help engineers get back to work after a career break.

As part of their continued drive to enhance inclusion, the organisation’s Defence Division will offer a STEM Returners programme at their site near Bristol where candidates will be involved in projects including Tempest, which is developing the next generation of fighter jets; and Orpheus, a project developing efficient low burn engines. The skills-based roles for returners will include opportunities in Engineering and Project Management.

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.

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. Sixty-six percent 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.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners said: “People wanting to return to work after a career break face an uphill battle, especially when they want to return to STEM industries.

“We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with Rolls-Royce, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like Rolls-Royce, 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.”

Alex Zino, Director Business Development & Future Programmes at Rolls-Royce, said: “Working in partnership with the STEM Returners programme we are looking to support people that want to return to industry.  With training, coaching and line management support on hand we look to ensure individuals can settle back into work with confidence and contribute to the business outcomes.   For Rolls-Royce it is a unique opportunity to identify and recruit experienced, capable and professional individuals who are highly valued and can make a real difference to our growing business.  Once fully embedded back in business we have an exciting portfolio of international Future Programmes that provide a range of diverse opportunities, where people can expand and develop their skills.  We are looking for people who want to rekindle their passion for STEM, be challenged, help create tomorrow, today, and provide the Power to Protect to the men and women who serve to keep us safe every day.”

Gareth Jones, Engineering & Technology Director at RR Defence, added: “I’m very excited about working with STEM Returners to help bring talented people into our engineering community, helping us solve technical challenges and deliver for our customers.  We have a wide portfolio of products and capabilities that require a diverse range of skills and experiences, which also provide a wide variety of career development options.”

STEM Returners has recently launched the 2023 STEM Returners Index, to understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the sector after a career break. It is open to all STEM professions who have had a gap in their career, who are attempting to return to work or who have recently returned to work and asks a variety of questions including reasons for a career break and what challenges were faced when attempting to return to their profession. The survey will enable STEM Returners to further understand the barriers people face, track the progress UK STEM industries are making, and shine a light on the change needed to create fair opportunities for all. The 2023 STEM Returners Index will be open until 30 June 2023 and is available at

 Since STEM Returners first launched in 2017, more than 310 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners opportunities, visit