New partnership to boost employment opportunities in utilities sector in Warrington


Utilities infrastructure and engineering services company, Avove, has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to improve career opportunities for people on a career break.

Avove will host a 12-week, paid returners programme across their UK sites, with roles located in Warrington, Worcestershire and Yorkshire, which will be available to anyone with a background in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and who are on a career break. STEM Returners will source the candidates and provide support and advice, career coaching and mentoring, to help candidates feel ready and confident to return to work. Roles will include Quantity Surveyors, Site Managers, Civil Engineers, Senior Electrical and Civil Engineers.

Research from STEM Returners identified the challenges people face when trying to return to work following a career break, with recruitment bias stated as the main barrier to entry. It also highlighted that women are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men when trying to return to industry.

STEM Returners programmes aim to eliminate these barriers by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement, as well as supporting them to adjust to life back in work. Avove is committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce and the utilities sector and see this partnership as a pathway to attract a wider and highly skilled talent pool.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said:

“We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with Avove Utilities, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. There is a well-known skills shortage in the UK engineering industry, but despite a clear need for people, professionals who have had a career break are often overlooked. Only by partnering with industry leaders like Avove, 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.”

Avove’s People Director, Becky Kimber, said:

“Partnering with STEM Returners is core to our aim of creating a working environment where everyone can thrive. We are delighted to launch this exciting returners programme, which aligns with our strategy to continue attracting a diverse and inclusive range of candidates into Avove and the sector.

“We are passionate about giving people the opportunity to return back to the workplace as we believe they can add real value to our business. We want to remove any barriers preventing future talent from resuming their STEM careers, together with training for STEM employers to create more supported routes back to work.”

STEM Returners has recently launched its annual survey to understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the workplace after a career break. The 2024 STEM Returners Index is open to all STEM professions who have had a gap in their career of any length, or who are attempting to return to work, or who have recently returned to work. The anonymous survey asks a range of questions including reasons for a career break and what challenges were faced when attempting to return to work. The results 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 2024 STEM Returners Index will be open until 30 June 2024.

Since STEM Returners first launched in 2017, 500 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK.

To view STEM Returners’ opportunities, visit