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Why The Engineering Sector Must Change

Rapidly advancing technology – and developments such as the Internet of Things – are putting the engineering sector under tremendous pressure to innovate and tackle ever-more complex processes.

The headlines show quite clearly that the talent pool in the UK, to underpin this level of change and growth, currently doesn’t exist in sufficient numbers.

In fact, manufacturers and specialist companies worldwide are reporting substantial numbers of job roles left unfilled – for long periods – due to the scarcity of applicants qualified in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM).

The result is that the engineering sector is facing up to massive change to its cultures and policies on workforce diversity.

Gender neutrality

Women are currently seriously underrepresented in engineering firms, and this needs to be addressed quickly, not least as it could go a long way to plugging the skills gap.

Stimulating and supporting greater interest from female students at schools or colleges is the long game. The urgency of the situation requires robust changes to improve diversity of opportunity with immediate effect.

This does not, however, mean that employers are starting to favour women applicants. It is more about gender neutrality – making jobs and promotions equally accessible to everyone.

Karen Thomas, UK head of HR at Airbus Defence and Space, has been quoted in the media saying: “It’s important that women who do well in the workplace are not seen as doing well because they’re women — but rather because they’re very capable people who can do the job.”

Creating gender neutrality in engineering may include, for example, offering flexible working for all staff and supporting both male and female employees who need to take career breaks for family reasons.

With some more traditional “old school” employers, it means uncovering and addressing deep-seated and unconscious attitudes and working practices that differentiate between genders.

However, the exciting work underway to create a more inclusive workforce in engineering doesn’t end there.

Diversity

The Royal Academy of Engineering has launched a Diversity and Inclusion Programme (D&IP) and a strategy that covers 2015-2020.

It includes robust measures and activities that will ensure engineering is a career that can increasingly embrace and assimilate greater equality across the board. This will include inspiring, attracting and holding on to applicants completely independent of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age or disability.

Time to seize your chance

This makes it a crucial time to embark on a career in engineering, riding on the crest of all these new measures. Career and promotion opportunities are widening up.

If you sign up for an engineering apprenticeship with TTE Training, the new level playing field will put your career goals a great deal closer.

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