The Aerospace and Automotive STEM Returners Project




Policy News , Enginuity News , Enginuity Update

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Enginuity are delighted to have joined forces with return-to-work specialists STEM Returners, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and ADS Group to launch The Aerospace and Automotive STEM Returners Project.

There are a variety of reasons why many skilled and experienced professionals take career breaks, and this Returners programme demonstrates the commitment of all involved to support and empower these individuals to re-join the workforce, while also effectively addressing the growing skills gap in both sectors.

Women are underrepresented in both the automotive and aerospace industry, with few holding senior positions. Fewer than 10% of the aerospace sector’s engineers are female*, and while women form around 20 per cent of the automotive workforce, this falls to around 10 per cent at executive level**. It is hoped the programme will enable people on a career break, the majority of whom are women, to return to industry.

The programme will be launched in two phases:

  • The first includes insight sessions held for both automotive and aerospace SMEs to learn more about the programme (held 6th and 8th February)
  • The second will establish 12-week industry placements within host organisations, facilitated by STEM Returners

There are many benefits to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) supporting the Aerospace and Automotive STEM Returners Project, including:

  • Increasing STEM professionals in a skills short market
  • Improving workplace diversity and inclusion
  • Attracting highly experienced talent
  • Raising awareness of the impact of unconscious bias
  • Promoting good practice in inclusive recruitment

We recognise that while many SMEs acknowledge the business benefits and relevance of diversity, SMEs face different challenges to large employers when it comes to adopting strategies to address this issue. This is why the following support is available to SMEs involved in the project:

  • Enginuity will part-fund the cost of taking part in the programme for 10 SMEs (5 automotive and 5 aerospace)*:

Total cost to participate = £3,500 per opportunity for a returner

  • £2,500 funded by Enginuity
  • £1,000 funded by participating SME
  • STEM Returners will source candidates and provide additional support including advice, career coaching, and mentoring, ensuring applicants are ready and confident to return to work.

*Companies that have not been successful in securing funding from Enginuity and would like to participate are still eligible, but liable to cover the full cost.

Next steps

Before applying, please ensure you have:

  • The commitment of key stakeholders in your business
  • Identified an opportunity(s) to be ringfenced for a returner.

Successful applicants to receive funding from Enginuity will be notified.

Any questions or enquiries about the programme can be emailed to Alternatively, you can view our FAQs.

We look forward to working with you!

Register your interest in the STEM Returners Project



Enginuity will part-fund the cost of taking part in the programme for 10 SMEs.

Register your interest