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CPI launches new STEM returners jobs scheme

CPI Enterprises, a leading technology innovation centre based in the north east of England and Glasgow has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to help provide a route for highly qualified professionals to return or transfer back to the STEM industry after a career break.


CPI brings together academia, businesses, government, and investors to translate bright ideas and research into the marketplace by giving customers access to the right experts, equipment, funding and more.


Working with STEM Returners, CPI will offer a 12-week placement programme to three individuals wanting to return to industry. The first of these placements will be in the health tech sector, based in Sedgefield. The fully paid placements act as a ‘returnship’, allowing candidates to be re-integrated into an inclusive environment upon their return to STEM.


There is a well-known skills shortage in the UK STEM industry, but despite a clear need for people, professionals who have had a career break are often overlooked. In the 2022 STEM Returners’ annual survey – The STEM Returners Index – 66% of STEM professionals on a career break said 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.

The STEM Returners’ programme aims to eliminate barriers, by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement and helping them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work.


Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners said: “We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with CPI, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like CPI, 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.”


Amy Smith, Chief People Officer of CPI said: “The STEM Returners Programme presents an incredible opportunity for our industry to tap into a vast pool of untapped talent and expertise.  By welcoming back experienced professionals who have taken a career break, we not only diversify our workforce but also inject fresh perspectives and innovative thinking into CPI.  Embracing the STEM Returners Programme is not just a commitment to inclusivity; it is a strategic investment in our industry’s future success.  Together, we build a brighter future, one STEM career at a time.”


Whilst the scheme helps solve the problem of sourcing talent in sectors that need it, it also has the added benefit of increasing diversity in a host organisation. STEM Returners’ population of experienced professionals who are attempting to return to work are 46% female and 44% from ethnic minority groups, compared to 14% female and 9% from ethnic minority groups working in industry.


Successful candidates may be offered full-time positions at CPI upon the completion of their 12-week placement. Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 400 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK.

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CPI launches new STEM returners jobs scheme for health tech professionals

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1. People who have completed the STEM Returners programme are available for interview upon request. 2. STEM Returners, returns highly qualified and experienced STEM professionals after a career break by working with employers who share the common objective of increasing diversity in STEM and creating a sector where everyone feels valued, supported and included. The STEM Returners project facilitates paid short-term employment placements for professionals returning to work after a career break. Alongside the experience gained from the work placement, the STEM Returners project will also provide support for the candidate in advice, career coaching, networking opportunities and mentoring. All of the candidates going through the programme will also have the opportunity to restart their career in a permanent position at the end of the programme. This project is co-supported by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the Women’s Engineering Society. STEM Returners was awarded the Maritime UK Diversity Award in 2020, the Diversity in Engineering Award by Enginuity in March 2021, and Best Returnship Programme by the Women in Tech Employer Awards in May 2022. In September 2021, Natalie Desty (Director) was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Engineering by Southampton Solent University to recognise her work in increasing diversity in STEM. 3. CPI catalyses the adoption of advanced technologies and manufacturing solutions to benefit people, places, and our planet. We’re a pioneering social enterprise that accelerates the development, scale-up and commercialisation of smart AgriFoodTech, energy storage, HealthTech, materials, and pharma innovations. Through our incredible innovation experts and infrastructure, we look beyond the obvious to transform healthcare and drive towards a sustainable future. As a trusted partner of industry, academia, government, entrepreneurs and the investment community, we connect the dots within the innovation ecosystem to make great ideas and inventions a reality. We believe by working together we can build a better collective future, and as part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, we facilitate access to world-class organisations to deliver transformation across industries and landscapes. Creating lasting global impact from the North of England and Scotland, we invest in people and disruptive technologies to invigorate economies, create circular supply chains and make our world a better place.

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