Engineering and technology businesses are being urged to join a pioneering diversity employment scheme to help address inclusion issues among the sector.
Diversity and inclusion problems within the engineering and technology industry are not just being faced by those working in it, but are prominent among engineering students who are part of underrepresented groups with protected characteristics.
Students from diverse backgrounds face additional challenges in securing graduate employment in engineering and statistics around student diversity in the industry paints a stark picture about the employment opportunities available to underrepresented groups.
For example, Black and minority ethnic engineering hopefuls account for 26% of the student population – yet only 9% end up in employment. That is a massive drop off compared to their white counterparts.
Now, to make a significant impact on the diversity of the engineering workforce, better support needs to be made available to engineering students in securing employment over a longer period during their studies.
In response to this, a company called EqualEngineers launched an exciting solution, the EqualEngineers Pathways Programme.
The purpose of this programme is to provide students with a variety of supportive elements to ensure greater employability outcomes after graduation, and to improve their sense of inclusion and belonging within the engineering and technology industry.
Key elements of this include; in-person careers insights and employability workshop sessions plus online programme supporting students on work readiness, emotional intelligence, employability, and interpersonal skills development. A mentoring programme, pairing-up engineers from industry with engineering students, and work experience, placement, internship and graduate opportunities from engineering and technology partner organisations are also provided.
EqualEngineers founder and the brainchild of the Pathways Programme Dr Mark McBride-Wright, a gay safety engineer himself, said: “The programme is running right now, providing students access to things like in-person careers insights and employability workshop sessions, virtual training on work readiness and interpersonal skills development.
“We have also run a mentoring programme to pair-up students with engineers from industry, to improve their understanding of employment and provide support to their concerns and opportunities for work experience, placement, internship and graduate roles.
“Organisations taking part in the programme are looking to support the necessity to improve the employability opportunities of students from diverse backgrounds, and are striving to impact their own organisation’s inclusive culture.
“I was very proud that the EqualEngineers Pathways Programme, which will ensure greater employability outcomes for engineering students by 2025, launched with initial partner organisations comprising Rolls Royce and First Bus.
“It’s all about improving skills, confidence, employability and challenging any misconceptions.”
The outcomes for businesses involved, which currently include McLaren Racing, Rolls Royce, Network Rail, SSE and FirstBus, include an improved diversity strategy invigorated through large-scale positive action, increased awareness of diversity within the organisation, greater awareness of a diverse talent pool, with recruitment options, and raised profile amongst students – in turn securing more applications for job openings.