New industry talent campaign targets female recruits

Posted on 25 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Industry and university leaders have united to launch a major talent campaign in a bid to encourage more young people to consider a career in manufacturing and engineering.

The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) has published a report to mark the launch its latest campaign, Talent 2030. Entitled Great Expectations the report consolidates evidience that building a solid manufacturing and engineering base is essential to the UK’s economic recovery.

Richard Greenhalgh co-chair of the Talent 2030 Taskforce, speaking at the launch, said: “The UK is doing well in terms of the number of engineering graduates it has, better than the US, but we need better career advice for young people, we should not be embarrassed that university is a route into a well paid career and we need to encourage more work experience.”

The campaign is being led by Aaron Porter former President of NUS and David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Science.

The initial phase of the campaign will focus on attracting more girls to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing and on guiding the appropriate choice of A-level and GCSE subjects.

Talent 2030 is keen to raise the issue of industry gender ratios and suggests that by current if the numbers of women in manufacturing and engineering roles is not increased, the industry will be missing out on half of its talent pool for growth.

Speaking to The Manufacturer at the launch event Aaron Porter, director of the Talent 2030 Campaign, said: “The future of our country lies with those at school now so it is important for us to think about these issues.”

Mr Porter continued: “It is essential to encourage girls to get involved in careers in manufacturing, technology and engineering. We need to work to change the attitudes, perceptions and culture of those in our schools today.”

The taskforce behind the report commissioned an exclusive survey of undergraduate girls in the penultimate year of their degree, who achieved A grades in GCSE maths, physics and chemistry.

It discovered that less than a third of those studying STEM subjects wanted to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing, despite the fact that 2 in 5 of the girls said they could be persuaded to take up such a career, but were now not doing the right degrees.

Jane Wernick, a leading structural engineer, commented at the event: “It’s a great pity that we have so few women engineers. I hope this campaign will trigger greater engagement between industry and schools, so that young people have an opportunity to discover how exciting careers in engineering and manufacturing can be.”

The report proposes that Universities promote internships in all manufacturing and engineering courses and business commits to supporting a major manufacturing and engineering mentoring scheme, particularly aimed at girls before they reach 14.

Philip Greenish, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, added: “The Great Expectations report demonstrates that the UK will only continue to be in the business of producing high added value goods and services if we start planning now. Currently we struggle to recruit women into engineering and this is denying us the diverse perspectives that produce genuinely fresh thinking. We need new ways of attracting the best talent into engineering – both women and men.”