UK news: June 2005
Campaign aims to get 1,000 qualified women back to work
A campaign has launched in the UK to urge qualified women to return to careers in science, engineering and technology (SET). Research shows that 50,000 women with specialist SET skills and training are not currently working in this sector.
The Return Campaign has been launched by the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET. The organisation hopes to help up to 1,000 women to return to SET over the coming three years by offering a variety of free services and support, including training, courses, mentoring schemes and networking organisations.
"Currently only a third of SET-qualified women return to jobs that utilise their expertise after taking a career break, for example to raise children," says the campaign`s manager, Jane Butcher. "This loss is contributing to a continued skills gap in the SET industries. It represents a major concern for employers, and for women, who can feel frustrated that they are not making full use of their skills and potential."
As part of the campaign, the Open University is offering a free on-line course called Science, Engineering and Technology: A Course for Women Returners. The course, which starts in October, will help women to plan their return and to update their skills. It will also provide opportunities for them to attend networking events, and to meet with potential employers, role models and mentors.
"I`ve interviewed lots of women who have returned after a break and found that many face similar issues - for example, feeling out of touch with old contacts and networks, something which can be more acute in SET where women are still in the minority," says Open University lecturer, Clem Herman. "This course takes account of such issues and offers a mix of support and practical help."