Home Business Insights & Advice Women in construction: UK engineering skill shortage in 2024

Women in construction: UK engineering skill shortage in 2024

by Sarah Dunsby
23rd Feb 24 12:51 pm

The widespread lack of qualified individuals in the UK engineering sector could make it challenging for a precision engineering firm to fill open positions in the modern day. The results of the 2021 Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) annual skills survey provide a glaring example of this. According to the results, fewer recently employed engineers have the necessary technical and soft skills to do their jobs well. This represents less than 50% of the total recruiting efforts. Although this is a concern for the industry as a whole, a potential solution could be to increase the number of female engineers in order to reverse the declining applicant pool for CNC manufacturing roles.

Nearly half of companies facing a skills gap also offer supplementary training and assistance to recent graduates and apprentices just entering the workforce. The skills gap has also led 25% of companies to say that they just hire fewer apprentices and recent graduates. As a result of this skills gap, the industry is suffering, and one issue that has arisen is the lack of diversity in the hiring process. When asked about their plans to increase racial and gender diversity in the workplace, just a third of companies said they are doing so. Greater efforts are required to attract more women to careers in engineering, beyond the current state of affairs, which includes government-sponsored training and assistance schemes. This might end up being a huge boon for the industry in the road.

Statistics on the percentage of women working as engineers

There were 936,000 women in the engineering profession in 2021, making up 16.5 percent of the total, according to a study released in March 2022 by Engineering UK. This is a far bigger increase when compared to the figures from 2010, which were 10.5% (562.000 women). While the overall number of engineering jobs fell in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion of women holding engineering positions increased. The situation’s importance and possibilities are brought to light by this.

Only ten percent of the construction workers in the nation are female, according to the United States Labour Force Statistics from the year 2020. The United Kingdom has statistics that are similar to those of a few other European countries; however, the percentage of women working in construction is higher at 14% in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the UK has reasons to be optimistic. This gender bias, similar to that in engineering, stems from a combination of insufficient education and experience, as well as the persistent stereotype that men are better suited to these fields.

Why are there so few women working in engineering

The engineering and construction industries still primarily employ males for a number of reasons. First of all, there isn’t enough material available to young women and girls to promote this as a real professional path. After not having enough information or proper guidance, the next step is not having enough access to apprenticeships or the right kind of training. When it comes to engineering and construction, the percentage of female apprentices is typically somewhat low in European countries. Redressing the imbalance will need a top-down effort to address the entrenched bias against women in these fields that has persisted for decades.

The future for female engineers

While it’s encouraging to see more women joining the engineering field, there’s a long way to go before we reach our goal of a gender parity in the field. The current skills shortage in the industry in the UK could be solved by addressing gender bias and barriers, promoting the necessary skills more effectively, creating more opportunities for young girls and women, and including and highlighting female role models in the industry. Despite the fact that some women in the industry are already working harder than men to succeed and increase the number of women working for the sake of future generations, both the industry and the government should do more. The government has launched a programme that offers re-training options to women who are re-entering the workforce in an effort to encourage them to choose careers in STEM disciplines. Only this year was this course launched. This is an excellent starting point.

When searching for recent college grads to fill open positions, precision engineering firms and CNC machining companies need to broaden their recruitment strategies to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. There is space for growth in terms of offering chances to a more diverse pool of applicants, even if the workforce has historically been seen as male-dominated. A combination of industry-driven training programmes and governmental initiatives is needed to promote engineering as a viable career path for young people of all genders, races, and nationalities. A larger percentage of women have earned degrees in engineering in recent years. Given that this helps alleviate the shortage of qualified engineers, it could be seen as a good thing for the UK engineering sector.

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