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Filling The Engineering Gap: Encouraging Women Into The Industry

The UK engineering industry is staring into the jaws of a skills crisis, but encouraging more women to pursue a career in engineering is one way of averting disaster and remaining competitive on the global stage.

Writing for the Huffington Post UK, Sophie Caffrey, an engineer working in the electronics sector, cited EngineeringUK's forecast that Britain needs 1.8 million engineers and technicians to fill the skills gap by 2025.

Luckily, these days there are lots of options available to women looking to re-train or upskill, such as engineering distance learning courses, but the bulk of the work must be done at a grassroots level, says Caffrey.

Caffrey encourages the industry to get involved in playing an active role in engaging a new generation and engaging girls at an earlier age.

"Research tells us most girls have dismissed engineering by the age of 14, so unfortunately, this results in only 15.8 per cent of engineering and technology undergraduates in the UK being female," she wrote.

"Everyone has the potential to become an engineer but by the time employers reach out to engineering students at a university level, only one in six of those they’ve reached out to will be female."

Caffrey also encouraged more engineering organisations to host open days to let the next generation see behind the scenes and potentially visualise themselves in an engineering role.

She encouraged the industry to offer work experience to star pupils as another way of nurturing new talent.

Supporting more people to retrain for an engineering career will also help close the gap. Recent research from UK Power revealed that one in four workers is unhappy in their current role but a quarter of those looking to change careers are afraid to do so.

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