Highlighting career potential for women engineers

Paul Boughton

Continuing its celebration of its 30th year in business and in recognition of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, Capital International Staffing, one of the leading specialist engineering recruitment consultancies in the UK and Europe, is backing calls for more focus to be placed on careers in engineering in schools, colleges and universities – especially among young female students.

The UK is faring far worse than any other country in Europe for recruiting women into engineering, with a lower ratio of female to male engineers, and relying on immigrants to provide almost a fifth (20 per cent) of its technical workforce, according to a report published this week for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by the government’s chief scientific adviser for business, Professor John Perkins.

Highlighting the importance of engineering to our everyday life, Capital International has produced a video showing case studies of three young women who have embarked on exciting and varied careers using their studies and qualifications. One example is Abbie Hutty who is now working as the spacecraft structures engineer on Europe’s first Mars Rover mission.

Karen Silk, Capital International Staffing’s managing director, says: “Engineers work to solve global problems such as world hunger, clean water, world security, protecting the environment and improving the quality of everyday life. They shape the world in which we live and bring ideas to life.

"Engineers are designing the world's fastest car, helping architects design the tallest buildings in the world, helping chart-topping musicians record songs as well as developing the software for your favourite computer games. They help minimise damage from earthquakes, are developing life-saving medical equipment and working with British athletes to help Team GB go for gold. They’re also working with fashion designers to bring designs to life and create the special effects you enjoy in films.

"It really is mind-boggling how engineering affects every aspect of our lives. Our video gives a flavour of the breadth of careers available and is a key part of our programme to educate and inform young people where we will be going into schools, colleges and universities ourselves, as well as working with strategic partners to help students really understand how important yet exciting and fulfilling this career choice can be, and inspiring them to consider roles in engineering for their future.

"The UK needs to acknowledge that there is an urgent need to substantially increase the supply of engineers so we can compete in the global marketplace.”

There is a significant and increasing demand from employers all over the world for skilled engineers, and appropriate GCSE choices are vital to put young people on the path to a well-paid engineering career. Although apprenticeships are available, the report also highlights that overall, parents do not consider engineering as a gender-appropriate career for females, perpetuating the myth that engineers can only be men and making it less likely for young people to know enough about engineering to include it in their career choice.

The report says that only 30 per cent of A-level maths candidates are female and at undergraduate level, only 15-16 per cent of engineering applicants are women. But 28 per cent would consider it as a career if they realised they could work in exciting industries like fashion, music and film.

Capital International Staffing provides engineering recruitment services to the aerospace, automotive, defence, electronics, energy and telecoms industries.

For more information, visit www.capital-itstaff.com