Returners programme supports environmental professionals back into STEM roles

STEM job roles

A returners programme at SLR Consulting described as a “unique opportunity” has been launched for the second time.

Last year, the environmental and advisory consultancy firm offered a STEM Returners programme at their sites in Bristol, Nottingham, Exeter and London.

The firm says the programme was so successful, it has now launched another programme with 4 new roles including opportunities within their Geotechnical Engineering and also Hydrology & Hydrogeology teams.

Jack Bayliss was one of the returners on the first programme. For four years, Jack worked in the mineral exploration industry, travelling the world for long periods of time, and often working in remote places. He enjoyed his work and spending time on drill sites, completing geophysics surveys, and mapping vast areas of land. However, the birth of his son changed his priorities and he started to look for a role at home, but unfortunately in an industry that does not really exist in the UK.

However, the programme at SLR Consulting allowed him to transfer his expertise and valuable skills to a new sector and his has been able to contribute to a range of projects; from offshore wind, to quarry development, and mineral extraction.

He explained: “The thought of having to ‘start over’ in a new industry is daunting. This programme gave me the opportunity to expand my skillset and diversify my knowledge in an area different to my previous experience, whilst appreciating the skills I can offer. Within the STEM industries, this is relatively uncommon. It has also given me the unique opportunity to make a positive difference and ‘make sustainability happen’, while accessing leading technology and learn from industry experts.”

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people face when they have had career break of any length, when trying to return – recruitment bias being the main barrier to entry. Sixty-six percent of STEM professionals on a career break say they are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult and that nearly half (46%) of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience.

The new 12-week, paid, STEM Returners programme at SLR Consulting, is open to people who have had a career break and acts as a ‘returnship’ allowing candidates to be reintegrated into an inclusive environment upon their return to STEM. STEM Returners sources the candidates and provides them with additional support including advice, career coaching, and mentoring; ensuring applicants are ready and confident to return to work.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said: “STEM professionals like Jack, have valuable experience and knowledge that will benefit any employer. Yet, a gap on their CV, of any length, means they face an uphill battle when trying to return after time away from the industry.

“We are very proud to continue working with SLR Consulting to provide more opportunities for highly skilled people to return to STEM. Only by partnering with industry leaders like SLR, will we make vital changes in recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and improve diversity and inclusion.”

David Moorey, Head of People Team, Europe, said: “We are pleased to be launching our second STEM Returners programme. We hope to build on the recent success of our initial programme and welcome more new colleagues, with skills and experience in STEM, back to the workplace. Together, we will help reshape the future of STEM and unlock the limitless potential for both professionals and industry alike.”

STEM Returners has recently launched the 2023 STEM Returners Index, an annual survey to understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the sector after a career break. The STEM Returners Index is open to all STEM professions who have had a gap in their career or who are attempting to return to work or who have recently returned to work and 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 2023 STEM Returners Index will be open until 30 June and is available at

Since STEM Returners first launched in 2017, more than 380 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners opportunities, visit