MBDA has launched a new programme aimed at improving gender equality in the defence sector.

The company is aiming to help people who have been on a career break to return to work.

MBDA will work with a company called STEM Returners to support ten professionals across the UK, including at their Stevenage site, into its Operations and Engineering careers

The programme is part of MBDA’s drive to make women thirty per cent of their workforce by 2030.

The company hopes that the partnership with STEM Returners will be helpful, with 46 per cent of their pool of professionals being women. However, the programme is open to people of all genders, ages and backgrounds.

Candidates will be sourced by STEM Returners, and must be eligible for security clearance, be a UK national or dual national, and provide additional mentoring and career advice.

Research conducted by STEM Returners about the challenges people face when trying to return to work following a career break found that recruitment bias was the main barrier to entry. The research also showed that women trying to return to industry are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men.

The programmes run by STEM Returners 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.

Matt Beaumont, director of mechanical engineering and the sponsor of GEN-EQ, MBDA’s gender balance network, said: "We are pleased to be working with STEM Returners and to be part of driving change to improve the return to work for the highly skilled people our industry needs.

"People who take a break from their STEM career will have invested time and effort in gaining their skills and experience. As a company with engineering at its heart, it's our responsibility to provide a professional, inclusive and supportive workplace where they can continue their careers and be valued."

Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, said: “We are delighted to be working with MBDA, who share in our commitment to increase equity in STEM and improve the way people who are on a career break return to work.

“There is a misconception that a career break leads to a deterioration of skills but that could not be further from the truth. 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 gender gap.”

The Comet: Liz returned to work with MBDA after a five-year career break.Liz returned to work with MBDA after a five-year career break. (Image: MBDA)

Liz, who works at MBDA having returned after a five-year career break, said: “When I returned after my career break, MBDA understood my childcare needs and I was offered a reduced hours contract in acknowledgment of my personal circumstances.

"I joined a team of helpful and enthusiastic individuals who, very quickly, made me feel accepted, included and technically respected. Since then, my career has gone from strength to strength and I’m grateful to MBDA for recognising and celebrating the skills I bring to the workplace.”

You can view the opportunities available with STEM Returners by visiting https://www.stemreturners.com/placements/.