UK program to help subsea professionals return to work after career break

Three UK partners have come together to deliver a cross-sector program to support returners back to the underwater sector after a career break or to transfer their skills from another sector.

The Seaeye Falcon underwater robotic system. Photo courtesy of Saab Seaeye and Nekton

The Global Underwater Hub and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) have partnered with STEM Returners to launch the new partnership in order to drive equality and diversity across the underwater industry.

The sector-wide STEM Returners program will be delivered across multiple organizations within Global Underwater Hub’s membership network and will be open to professionals who are on a career break or are transferring their skills.

ECITB is providing funding for in-scope employers to participate in the pilot, which requires offering selected candidates a paid 12-week work placement that could lead to a permanent role. STEM Returners will provide additional support, including career coaching and mentoring.

The program aims to provide candidates with real-work experience and mentoring during their placement, as well as support them in adjusting to life back at work, and also address the growing skills gap and need for diversification of skills to adapt to the ocean economy.

“A key focus of our STEM engagement work is to promote careers in engineering construction to under-represented groups, so we’re delighted to be supporting this new cross-sector programme aimed at helping get returners back to the workforce,” said ECITB Chief Executive Andrew Hockey.

“In what is an incredibly tight skills market, this programme is a great initiative that enables employers across the underwater sector to attract experienced candidates from a new talent pool whilst improving their diversity and inclusion. These 12-week placements provide a valuable opportunity and route for talented people, who may previously have encountered difficulties coming back to work, to restart their career or transfer their skills into a new industry.”

STEM Returners, a return-to-work specialist, will engage the candidates for roles including subsea controls engineer and electrical engineer, which will be based across the UK and offshore. Organizations that have already committed to the program include Subsea7, J+S Subsea, PD&MS and Verlume.

According to Neil Gordon, Chief Executive of Global Underwater Hub, for the UK’s extensive underwater industry supply chain to support and deliver the energy transition in an efficient and timely manner, the right people with the right skills must be in place at the right time.

“There is a misconception that a career break leads to a deterioration of skills but that could not be further from the truth,” said Natalie Desty, Founder of STEM Returners. “Only by working together will we make vital changes in recruitment practices to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and bridge the blue economy skills gap.”