Engineering Skills Shortage – Urgent Fix Needed

Engineering Girl

A million new engineers and technicians needed to aid economic revival

What has caused this engineering skills gap?

It all begins with school. Not enough children in education are studying the right STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects to lead through into a career in engineering. The result, you guessed it, is an Engineering skills shortage. If this is not resolved the talent for these subjects could soon run out. It seems that the teaching programmes for these subjects are archaic, unorganised and do not appeal to the youth of today. Enter the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme, which helps students place what they have learnt in the classroom into the world around them. With engineering companies strongly being urged to join in this initiative it should also offer opportunities for careers in engineering. Now that is a start.

How are we going to fill the skills gap?

Well, hello ladies. Despite the shortage of engineers and technicians, women don’t even account for 10% of this sector’s workforce. In fact, the UK has the lowest proportion of women in engineering in Europe. In order to tackle the crises that is due to hit us as a result of the skills shortage in science and engineering it is imperative that we inspire and invigorate girls to pursue a career in this arena. But how?

Unconscious biases certainly doesn’t make this a simple task. Many teachers and parents simply can’t help but discourage girls from following the path to a career in engineering.  To add to that it is mainly boys who are being targeted and encouraged into engineering. There are many organisations and initiatives who’s aim is to change these sterotypes:

WES – Womens Engineering Society. They have been inspiring women in engineering for 95 years by promoting careers in the industry and supporting companies with gender diversity. The collective voice for women engineers.

NWED – National Women in Engineering Day. This is an annual event with a  day dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of women in engineering.

IEEE WIE – Women in Engineering. “The mission of IEEE WIE is to facilitate the global recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines. IEEE WIE envisions a vibrant community of IEEE women and men collectively using their diverse talents to innovate for the benefit of humanity”

WISE – This organisation encourages women and girls to study and build a career in STEM. Their mission is to get 1 million more women into the UK STEM workforce.

All of these initiatives and organisations would agree that it is crucial to encourage girls to study the STEM subjects as well as to provide them with accessible female role models in industry.  On the flip-side it is just as important to make businesses aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce. Not only for reasons of equality but to reduce the engineering skills gap and create environments of better decision making that will lead to a superior product.

Equally, it is important to make people aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce, not just for the purposes of inclusion and equality or to plug the skills gap but because it will result in better decision-making and, almost certainly, a superior product.

Over the next few years as a result of improved STEM education and an increase in apprenticeships we could see the females designing aircraft, supervising the construction of buildings, designing mechanical devices and maybe even metal spinning or component assembly.



About the Author

Jackie Wakefield – Learned BloggerFind Jackie on Google +

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