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Wanted: Female engineers

Institution of Engineering and Technology | The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

2 min read Partner content

The UK is missing out on half its potential in engineering by failing to attract women, an industry body has said.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) made the claim after opposition leader Ed Miliband pledged that “thousands” of female engineers will be trained up as part of a 'national mission' to get Britain building again, if Labour wins the next election.

Writing on Facebook, he said Britain’s lack of female engineers should be a “matter of national embarrassment”.

“If we are going to win the race to the top in the 21st century, we have to re-establish our historic reputation as a world leader in technology and manufacturing,” he wrote. “We need to equip our businesses with the skills they need to succeed. But the UK is facing a crisis in the number of engineers being trained up.”

Michelle Richmond from the IET said:

“It’s great to see that Ed Milliband is making plans to tackle the engineering skills shortage. This is a very significant problem, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy.

“The shocking reality is that the UK is missing out on half of its potential engineering and technology workforce by failing to attract women into the industry. It also means that women are losing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly.”

Richmond said a lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls is also part of the problem, “which is why initiatives like our Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards are so important”.

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