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Meet the female engineers of the future

adi Group CEO Alan Lusty explains how its pre-apprenticeship scheme is helping to fix the gender inequality in engineering

Posted by Hannah Vickers | May 29, 2017 | Technology

Just 8.5% of the engineers in the UK are women and 62% of 11-21 year-old females believe engineering and technology is just for boys, according to the Telegraph.

These skewed perceptions of engineering are preventing young women from considering a career in engineering and contributing to a widening skills gap.

While much effort has been made to rectify the ‘engineering is only for boys’ perception of our sector, an imbalance still exists

While much effort has been made to rectify the ‘engineering is only for boys’ perception of our sector, an imbalance still exists, with only 9% of the total workforce being female. We are doing our part to help girls get into the field, and more importantly, stay in it. By introducing young women to the world of engineering at an early age, we hope that more of them will choose to enter a career in the industry after they’ve completed their studies.

Despite recent figures showing more people are entering apprenticeship schemes than ever before; for every female apprentice working within the UK engineering sector there are 25 male apprentices. With apprenticeships being the main route into engineering roles, it is hardly surprising that the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineering professionals.

The rest of the world is continuing to develop and grow its engineering proficiency and this creates more competition. If the UK is to maintain its lead as a true innovator, then we must work harder

The rest of the world is continuing to develop and grow its engineering proficiency and this creates more competition. If the UK is to maintain its lead as a true innovator, then we must work harder.

Our pre-apprenticeship scheme is run in partnership with a local secondary school, and involves adi engineers teaching core practical skills to 12 pupils in a live workshop for half a day each week. Two of these pre-apprentices are female.

When we spoke with 14-year old pre-apprentice, Alicia Southerton, she said: “My dad works at Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull, and it’s always sparked an interest of engineering in my mind since I went to his work. I think it’s quite an inspirational and motivational thing and if girls ever get the opportunity they should go for it, because it’s not just a boy thing to do.”

A key part of the solution lies in providing engineering training for young women before they make important career decisions. Our new pre-apprenticeship scheme links together industry and education to show school age children the benefits of engineering and present it as a viable career option. We hope that by taking on a healthy proportion of male and female apprentices each year we can contribute to closing the skills gap, ensuring that well-trained, dedicated professionals continue to enter the profession.

The end goal for adi is to not only invest in the female engineers of tomorrow but to inspire others as well

The end goal for adi is to not only invest in the female engineers of tomorrow but to inspire others as well. The vision is that the model and approach can reach out to thousands of children, via a network of like-minded businesses interacting with their local schools.

More businesses need to follow our example by engaging with young people and encouraging them to consider engineering as an attractive potential career. We believe our pre-apprenticeship scheme offers a comprehensive model, which we’re offering completely free of charge, and hope other schools and employers will use.

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