STEM Returners and Leonardo UK extend engineering jobs scheme

01 December 2021

Following the success of its pilot STEM Returners programme last year, Leonardo has launched a new 12-week returners’ scheme as part of its ongoing commitment to improving inclusion and diversity within the company and across the engineering sector.

The new programme will offer fully paid placements to people returning to work following a career break, at the company’s Basildon and Luton sites. Several experienced engineers were involved in the pilot in Southampton, Luton and Edinburgh.

One of them was Cathy Cojeen, who is now a Project Engineering Lead at Leonardo. “Before the STEM Returners programme, I was a maths and science teacher, which fitted in well when I had a young family, but I was always keen to return to my career in engineering," explains Cathy. "Leonardo’s STEM Returners programme was a fantastic opportunity to build on my engineering degree and diverse background in consultancy work, banking and education. Having my transferable teaching and leadership skills recognised in this industry was fantastic and the perfect opportunity for me to work in the defence industry. The programme gave me the opportunity to learn-as-you-go for 12 weeks thanks to my very supportive line manager. This not only allowed me to prove my ability to Leonardo, but for there to be a transition period to ensure that the demands of the role were suitable for me.”

Leonardo UK’s Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Nerys Thomas, says: “We are trying to rotate our placements so we can offer opportunities in different locations at our sites across the UK and reach a wider population of STEM Returners. There is a wealth of engineering talent in the UK and we are excited to see how their expertise could enrich our business.”

STEM Returners will source the candidates for the roles at Leonardo, covering software, hardware, firmware and systems engineering.

As well as helping solve the challenge of sourcing talent in sectors that need it, the initiative 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 51% female and 38% from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups, compared to 10% female and 6% BME working in the STEM industry.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, explains: “We are very proud to be continuing our work with Leonardo to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like Leonardo, 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.”

“The STEM Returners organisation has a proven track record of bringing experienced and talented STEM professionals into our business, giving us the opportunity to nurture and develop their skills through a bespoke development plan,” adds Rob Edmunds, Leonardo’s Head of Major Air Programmes Engineering Transformation. “Previous cohorts have not only had the chance to succeed at Leonardo; their careers have thrived here. The next intake will be working on some of our most exciting technologies and projects, including the Future Combat Air System programme, Tempest. This is a once in a generation opportunity for individuals to contribute to the development of cutting-edge sensors and technologies. We need bright, energetic individuals from diverse backgrounds to join our rapidly growing teams to deliver this capability.”

The STEM Returners programme provides candidates with real work experience and mentoring during their placement, helping them seamlessly adjust to life back in work. In addition, Leonardo offers STEM Returners flexible working arrangements so that experienced engineers who often have family responsibilities can manage their commitments more easily. Successful candidates may be offered full-time positions at Leonardo upon completion of their 12-week placement.

View Leonardo’s STEM Returners opportunities

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