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The Corporation

Posted: 05/05/11

College launches scheme to recruit more women engineers

A major drive is under way to encourage more females to consider careers in engineering.

West Nottinghamshire College has launched a pioneering project, called ‘Women in Engineering’, to alter women’s perceptions of the traditionally male-dominated industry and promote the diverse employment opportunities it provides.

It comes after the college secured £167,000 from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to find the female engineers of tomorrow and boost the number of women taking up engineering apprenticeships.

Research by the college found the proportion of females on engineering apprenticeships had declined in recent years, with women making up only 7% of the country’s rail engineering workforce – just one of the sectors within the engineering industry.

It is now seeking to engage 450 young people aged 14 to 18 in engineering workshops, and recruit 150 female engineering apprentices, by March 2012.

The college will raise the profile of engineering careers amongst female school pupils through industry and enterprise days, along with ‘have a go’ sessions, both in and after school.

Engineering workshops covering computer-aided design and trades including environmental, maintenance, manufacturing, technical and railway engineering will equip pupils with new skills, while summer ‘job shops’ will offer the chance to secure an apprenticeship, with a guaranteed job interview upon completion.

The college is also joining forces with local, regional and national employers – including high-profile companies it already works with such as Trackwork, DB Schenker, Glenair and Bombardier – to provide young females with work placements and apprenticeship opportunities, and promote higher education routes in the industry.

Working with partners including the East Midlands STEM Partnership, the college will promote engineering as a career choice and raise young people’s aspirations.

Meanwhile, successful females within well-known engineering companies will act as role models and help dispel myths about engineering and the opportunities for women.

Graham Howe, director of employer engagement at the college, said:  “Although the image of engineering as a dirty, male-dominated industry is gradually changing, nationally there’s still a culture of recruiting a young, male workforce.  Consequently, many young women don’t realise the career opportunities available to them.

“Engineering is actually a career choice for both men and women; offering a wide range of routes to exciting and highly-paid jobs, with unemployment amongst skills engineers lower than almost any other profession.”

“Some of the world’s most highly-regarded engineers are women, such as Marie Curie, who helped develop modern understanding of radioactivity, and Elizabeth Pate-Cornell, whose engineering developments helped reduce risk in space travel.

“We intend to help close this gap in the market by challenging traditional views about women in engineering and raising young female’s aspirations through work placements and workshops for those interested in a career in this dynamic industry,” added Mr Howe.

Karen Woodward, regional apprenticeship director at National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) East Midlands, said:  “This is an exciting project to engage young females in engineering apprenticeships and career opportunities, which may lead them into higher education.

“This is a true partnership project involving the college, local, regional and national employers, schools and role models. I wish them every success in this pilot.”