Bridging the STEM Gap: Tackling the UK’s Skills Crisis Head-On
Earlier this year I attended a WISE conference on the topic of ‘empowering your workforce, recruiting retain and retraining women in STEM, in a changing World’. As a Fellowship Advisor with the Daphne Jackson Trust, I am an advocate for our research returners and have a good understanding of the challenges they face in returning to the work they love after a career break. I attended the event to look at the issue from another viewpoint; to learn about the challenges that STEM employers face in keeping skilled women in their workforces.
Gender equity is not just a nice to have; it’s an economic imperative
According to recent government figures, there is a significant shortage of skilled workers in STEM fields, which is costing the economy an estimated £1.5 billion in lost revenue each year. The shortage of STEM workers is particularly concerning because these fields form the backbone of many industries, including healthcare, finance, and technology. Without a steady supply of skilled workers, businesses are unable to innovate and grow, which can have a knock-on effect on the wider economy. Investment into education and training is part of the solution, but the impact is reduced when highly trained and skilled women are lost to the STEM workforce after taking career breaks.
Tools for returning to STEM research
Many of the messages raised during the day are applicable to returners to research:
- Career coaches are a valuable tool, helping with CV preparation, interview performance as well as strategy and focus. In addition to private career coaches, there are several organisations that support women in STEM (STEM Returners, Women Returners and of course, us at the Daphne Jackson Trust).
- Mentorship is key to success – we encourage our Fellows to make the most of the support they have available including their Supervisor and Fellowship Advisor.
- Returners should highlight and advertise their transferrable skills when applying for roles. Additional skills developed during career breaks can make them stronger researchers.
We are proud to be helping to bridge this UK skills gap and ensure a brighter future for Women (and men!) in STEM – and the wider economy.
The Daphne Jackson Trust – supporting research returners in STEM and beyond
The Daphne Jackson Trust provides Fellowships to support research returners after a career break of 2 years or more taken for family, caring or health reasons. We are dedicated to supporting research returners through flexible Fellowships in universities, research institutes and in industry across the UK and Republic of Ireland. We work with highly skilled research returners from many backgrounds and specialisms across STEM, arts and humanities and social sciences. This benefits the individual, the research community, and wider society.
Help us to continue to support research returners by doing these three things:
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