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Welcome to the December issue of PBSI! Another year has flown by and the festive period is now well and truly with us as 2018 comes to a close. It has been an interesting year to say the least, both for the industry and for engineering as a whole with Brexit developments – or lack thereof – and the publication of the 18th Edition as mentioned in my previous editorial comments.
2018 was officially declared the ‘Year of Engineering’ as part of a government campaign to help boost engineering skills in the UK and inspire the next generation of engineers. The campaign is part of the Industrial Strategy and the essential push towards fixing the skills gap.
An alarming facet of the skills gap issue is the distinct lack of female engineers in the UK. In this month’s issue of PBSI, Boss Training (p.26) raises some interesting, yet worrying statistics. These include the facts that only 11% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female and in 2017, only 15.1% of the UK’s engineering undergraduates were women.
The UK skills gap could be worsened by Brexit and the restriction on the availability of EU workers and so there is a dire need for a solution. Statistics like the ones mentioned are concerning not just in terms of the lack in diversity that is present within UK engineering, but also because the increasing skills gap could be alleviated if there was an increase in the number of women entering engineering-based professions. The statistics also beg the question: what is preventing greater numbers of female engineers?
A report entitled ‘Gender disparity in engineering’ published by EngineeringUK earlier this year (https://bit.ly/2S0sIA4) showed that only 60% of girls aged 11 to 14 think they could become an engineer if they want to, compared to 72% of boys. The research suggests that the disparity is largely due to girls dropping out of the educational pipeline at every decision point, despite generally performing better than boys in STEM subjects. Lastly, it suggests girls are also not only less knowledgeable about engineering and how to become an engineer, but are also less likely to seek careers advice from others.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) also conducted research (https://bit.ly/2BpRvZ3) into the issue and found that just 26% of girls are looking to pursue a career in STEM with more than one in 10 girls thinking careers in engineering are more suited towards boys.
The work being done through the Year of Engineering and initiatives such as Tomorrow’s Engineer Week, Primary and Secondary Engineer, and NICEIC’s ‘Jobs for Girls Bursary Scheme’ – to name just a select few – is vital.
A more diverse talent pool within engineering develops a greater variety of ideas and offers the ability to tackle issues from a multitude of perspectives. More must therefore be done to erase the gender gap in engineering and make it a more inclusive profession.
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