Campaign to get more women into engineering launched in Parliament today

19 October 2016.
Rebecca Feldman, Materials Engineer, William Cook Rail Ltd, Cross Green, Leeds.
19 October 2016. Rebecca Feldman, Materials Engineer, William Cook Rail Ltd, Cross Green, Leeds.
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A new wide-ranging campaign to encourage more young people to enter the engineering sector is to be launched in Parliament today.

The ‘Engineering is…’ campaign, launched by the University of Sheffield and backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, aims to challenge perceptions of engineering and inspire primary school children, particularly young girls, to consider studying engineering at university.

The shortage of UK engineers is a massive problem for the UK economy. Engineering companies will need 182,000 people per year with engineering skills in the decade to 2022 but there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers.

Filling the demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27 billion per year for the UK economy from 2022, according to the 2015 Engineering UK report: ‘The State of Engineering’.

In a CBI survey, 44 per cent of engineering, science and hi-tech firms reported difficulties in finding experienced recruits with STEM skills.

The shortage of women in engineering roles is even more acute - with only 9% of the engineering and technology workforce being female, according to an IET Skills Survey 2015.

Female engineer and TV presenter, Roma Agrawal will speak at the launch and a children’s book, written by student engineers from the university, will be published.

Online games, lesson plans for teachers and information on different engineering careers will also be launched as part of the campaign.

Ms Agrawal said: “The UK society needs a concerted effort as a whole to change the perception of engineering in order for it to become an aspirational career for girls and boys.

“Many people simply don’t know about the wide range of roles within engineering, that engineering is creative, and can help you change the world.”

Dr Rachael Rothman, Faculty Director for Women in Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “At Sheffield we aim to inspire more women and girls to study engineering - diversity is more than a box ticking exercise.

“Engineering is a massively important career, needed by the UK economy, and if we only train men we are not reaching a huge potential pool of talented engineers.”

Paul Blomfield MP for Sheffield Central said: “Engineering is hugely important for the UK economy and especially the Sheffield city region.

“This campaign by the University of Sheffield is an important step towards encouraging more young people to study STEM subjects and think about a career in engineering.”

Andy Tuscher regional director for EEF in Yorkshire and the Humber, told The Yorkshire Post: “Finding individuals with relevant skills is one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers and this campaign to attract people into engineering at an early age is welcome news.

“As a sector we miss out with a disproportionate number of girls not taking STEM subject and this campaign will hopefully be the catalyst to inspire many young people into the sector.”

The EEF is a trade body charged with championing manufacturing and engineering.