Diversity vital to engineering sector recovery


THE Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has highlighted the role female workers could play in the industry’s economic recovery.

The organisation said engineering employers were already reporting a ‘serious shortfall’ in recruits before the Covid-19 crisis and warned that a failure to improve its appeal to females will hamper growth.

Just 12% of UK engineers are female, with only 25% of girls aged 16-18 saying they would consider a career in engineering compared with more than 50% of boys, according to the latest statistics gathered by EngineeringUK.

BESA president John Norfolk said, “Engineering professions will be crucial to the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. We need to power up the sector with the widest possible range of skills; yet we continue to miss a major recruitment opportunity with half of the population.”

BESA is supporting the seventh annual International Women in Engineering Day on June 23. The global awareness campaign is supported by UNESCO and organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). It aims to raise the profile of women engineers and highlight career opportunities.

This year’s theme is ‘Shape the World’, which highlights how engineering can deliver social and sustainability goals.

WES chief executive Elizabeth Donnelly commented, “Since its inception (in 1919 in the wake of the First World War and the women’s suffrage movement), WES has worked to try to ensure that women have the opportunities to work and to be educated, campaigning for equal rights, equal education and equal pay in a sector which remains heavily male dominated. Our work in improving the rights of women in the workplace would have been impossible without male allies, who were able to use their social standing and personal experience to make the case for women being a positive addition to the engineering workforce.”

BESA is challenging its members and the wider sector to build on the INWED campaign. Mr Norfolk added, “It is telling that 46% of girls would consider engineering as a career at age 11-14 – compared with 70% of boys – but that falls to just 25% aged 16-18. We must all do more as employers to showcase the wonderful opportunities this industry offers to all young adults.”

BESA is marking its support for the campaign with a dedicated webinar on Friday June 12 at noon hosted by chief executive David Frise. He will be joined by WES CEO Elizabeth Donnelly, and a panel of women from BESA member companies.