Young female engineer

New opportunities arising in HS2 for those returning to work

To coincide with HS2’s continued drive to create employment opportunities for local people and those from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, the Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture is working in partnership with London-based organisations Women Returners and STEM Returners to involve the local community and support individuals who have taken a career break back into work.

The Women Returners group is for professionals from a vast array of backgrounds who took a career break of two years or more.

The programme will offer six months’ paid work placements to six candidates, with a high chance of ongoing employment on the HS2 project. Participants will also receive full support, including a Career Returners Coaching Programme from Women Returners.

In 2020, the joint venture recruited six employees through the Women Returners programme, with a 100% conversion into permanent employment. It hopes this year’s programme will inspire more people to join the sector and secure long-term employment in line with their career goals.

The programme particularly welcomes applications from female returners, as this supports HS2’s aim to address the gender imbalance in the construction and rail sectors.

However, identifying that career breaks or parental care or personal reasons are not exclusive to women, the joint venture also encourages male applications for the programme.

The joint venture’s second recruitment drive is an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focused programme.

Six places will be available on the 12-week programme which is designed for individuals with a STEM-focused career background, such as engineering, or those who have worked in the STEM sector. Mentoring and coaching will be provided to ensure that those returning to work, following a lengthy period of absence, are fully supported.

Following the completion of the 12-week programme, successful candidates may be offered full-time positions. The STEM Returners programme has already supported almost 200 candidates and 96% have been offered full-time roles at the end of their placement.

Ambrose Quashie, HS2 Ltd’s Skills Manager for Greater London said: “We have set robust employment and skills targets for all our contractors to ensure that local people benefit from opportunities to work on this once in a lifetime project.

“This is a fantastic example of how we are ensuring that those in need of additional support to boost their career can really benefit.”

Fabiana, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Administrator and 2020 Return to Work programme graduate said: “Joining the project through the Return to Work programme really helped me with my confidence to be ready and prepared to come back to work. When you are out of work, it can be hard, and you worry about lots of little things. The support provided is essential.”

Alice Jennison, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture explains: “We have already hired six people through our Return to Work programme and we are excited to expand the programme in 2021. We offer tailored support to individuals who are returning to work through coaching, training, mentoring and a dedicated buddy. There are many talented people wanting to return to work and we welcome applications from people with or without infrastructure industry experience.”

Image: HS2 Ltd 

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