Engineering graduates still face ethnicity hurdle

Posted on 21 Nov 2016 by Jonny Williamson

A new report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering has found that just half (51%) of black and minority ethnic (BME) engineering graduates find full-time jobs after six months, compared to 71% of white students.

The report – Employment outcomes of engineering graduates: key factors and diversity characteristics – provides data for the first time on long-term employment outcomes for engineering graduates.

In general, the employment outcomes are very positive compared to the overall graduate cohort reflecting the importance of engineers, not just in the engineering industry, but across the whole economy.

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After three and a half years, 94% of engineering graduates were in full-time work, pursuing further study or a combination of both – 6% more than the average for all graduates

However, despite ongoing efforts to improve the diversity of the engineering profession, the report shows that the recruitment of engineering graduates, especially into engineering occupations, seems to correlate more with certain characteristics of diversity and academic attainment than is the case for graduates overall.

Although employment prospects on the whole are very good, a black or Asian engineering graduate is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as a white counterpart of similar age and gender with similar study and attainment characteristics.

The report calls for further investigation into the impact of ethnicity and academic attainment on early employment prospects for engineering graduates.

Employment outcomes for those going to work specifically in engineering occupations are very strong: 69% of engineering graduates entered engineering occupations after three and a half years.

There was a small difference in the proportion of male and female engineering graduates entering engineering occupations; for the 2013/14 cohort, 56% of men and 52% of women took on engineering roles.

You can download a copy of the report here.

Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Rhys Morgan commented: “Despite the profession striving for a more diverse workforce, the impact of ethnicity on early employment outcomes for engineering graduates is concerning and we are beginning to investigate the causes of this.”

Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Bola Fatimilehin noted: “The report suggests that ethnicity is one of the most significant factors impacting the employment of engineering graduates.

“Engineering employers need to do more to encourage and engage with engineering students from all backgrounds, and across all types of universities. More also needs to be done to ensure that employment practices do not perpetuate environments where black or Asian engineering graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts of similar age and gender, and with similar study and attainment characteristics.

Fatimilehin added: “In response to these unequal outcomes, the Academy is piloting an Engineering Engagement Programme where a number of employers are working together to address these issues, and more are welcome to come on board.”