One of the UK’s largest independent chemical manufacturers has formed a new partnership with STEM Returners to continue their drive to improve diversity and inclusion in the sector.

Robinson Brothers is a leading chemical manufacturer of speciality & fine chemicals and rubber accelerators. Established in 1869, the company has become an industry expert in custom synthesis and contract manufacture. This experience has led the firm to become a reliable supplier to organisations; serving the Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, Toys, Footwear, Veterinary, Agrochemical, Automotive, Electronics and material sciences industries as well as many others.

The company will offer a STEM Returners programme at their site located in West Bromwich (West Midlands, UK). Roles will include: Instrument Technician, Electrical Technician, Mechanical Fitter and Chemical Engineer.

STEM Returners, based in Hampshire, will source candidates for the programme, which aims to return or transfer experienced engineers back into industry following a career break. The fully paid placements act as a ‘returnship’, allowing candidates to be re-integrated into an inclusive environment upon their return to STEM.

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) has revealed the challenges people face when trying to return to work, following a career break. Recruitment bias is shown to be the main barrier to entry.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners said: “We are very proud to be entering this new partnership with Robinson Brothers, to return highly skilled people back into the industry they love. Only by partnering with industry leaders like Robinson Brothers, will we make vital changes in STEM recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and improve diversity and inclusion.”

Justin Owens, Human Resources Manager at Robinson Brothers said “Chemistry and engineering are at the core of everything that we do at Robinson Brothers. We have a long history of employing a diverse, talented workforce and are looking forward to working with STEM Returners to continue to add exceptional people to our business.”

There is currently a well-known skills shortage in the UK engineering industry, but despite a clear need for people, professionals who have had a career break are often overlooked. STEM Returners has recently launched the 2022 STEM Returners Index to better understand STEM professionals’ experiences of trying to re-enter the sector after a career break.

The survey is open to all STEM professionals who have had a gap in their career, who are attempting to return to work, or who have recently returned to work. It is anonymous and asks a variety of questions including reasons for a career break, what challenges were faced when attempting to return to work and what impact COVID-19 had on finding a role.

The STEM Returners’ programme aims to eliminate barriers, by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement, as well as helping them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work.

Whilst the scheme helps solve the problem of sourcing talent in sectors with a shortage of skilled professionals, it also has the added benefit of increasing diversity in a host organisation. STEM Returners’ population of experienced professionals attempting to return to work are 51% female and 38% from black and minority ethnic groups, compared to 10% female and 6% BME working in the STEM industry.

Successful candidates may be offered full-time positions at Robinson Brothers upon the completion of their 12-week placement. Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, nearly 250 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners availabilities with Robinson Brothers, visit