Women in engineering and how apprenticeships can help

More than ever before, there is a huge drive for equality in the workplace. People of all ages, genders, races and religions are able to benefit from equal treatment in the recruitment process and during their employment.

Despite this, 2017 surveys indicate that only 11% of the engineering workforce is female.

While this is a positive change on the 9% reported in 2015, it still leads us to question of why there is such a difference between the genders when it comes to the engineering sector.

The relationship between females and physics at school

All students must study science to GCSE level (Core Science, Double Science or Triple Science), meaning that around half of all GCSE physics students are female. However, only around 20% of students that choose to study A Level physics are female. This has not changed in 25 years.

Some of the female students surveyed on this topic were worried about being “the only girl in the class” and some admitted that teachers presented A level physics as a “hard” subject and that hard subjects are “for men”.

The science and engineering sector has been steadily growing for a number of years. It has been estimated that the UK will need 1.82 million professionals in this industry by 2020. It’s therefore essential to expand the interest in science and engineering and, in particular, to improve its appeal to females.

Engineering students are second only to medical students in securing full-time jobs and earning good salaries. In a survey of 300 female engineers, 84% were either happy or extremely
happy with their career choice, showing that it can be a very rewarding and enjoyable option.

Engineering higher education qualifications and skills

2017 statistics show that only 5% of registered engineers and technicians (i.e. CEng, IEng, EngTech) are women. This seems to imply a reluctance to pursue formal education and training in this sector.

While both male and female engineering and technology students expressed a similar level of intent to work in the sector, 66.2% of males and 47.4% of females went on to engineering or technology careers.

There are several factors that could be behind this. One concern is that the skills taught in academic engineering qualifications don’t meet the requirements of employers seeking new recruits. There’s no denying that engineering degrees can be highly beneficial for students seeking employment in this sector. However, many employers value hands-on experience just as much, if not more.

How apprenticeships can help women in engineering

All students in the UK must remain in formal education or training until the age of 18. Many choose the ‘traditional’ route of A levels, which many consider to be academically demanding. This is not always the most advantageous option, depending on a student’s aptitude for academic exams or desired career path.

More and more students are taking the hands-on, skills-based approach of diplomas, such as BTECs or HNDs, or an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships allow students to learn on the job, developing practical skills that apply directly to their chosen career. Rather than sitting in a classroom and learning the theoretical side of the job, apprentices apply themselves in the workshop. This allows them to benefit from expert supervision and training.

Apprenticeships are an engaging way to learn the skills necessary for an engineering career, and apprentices also earn a wage. It gives them a chance to try out a role or sector and see if it’s a good fit. Another benefit is that they can discover this without the time and money commitments of a degree.

These benefits are extremely appealing, making apprenticeships a good vehicle for increasing interest in engineering careers. It’s important to consider how we discuss apprenticeships, and to present them in a way that entices students.

Apprenticeships are stereotypically thought of as only being for the more ‘dirty’ manual industries such as construction or engineering. You can actually undertake an apprenticeship in almost any sector. Apprenticeships exist in business, customer service, media, healthcare and much more.

The more companies learn about the benefits of hiring an apprentice and how best to sell their apprenticeship to draw attention, the better the results will be for both businesses and engineering students.

Engineering apprenticeships at CEATA

CEATA is a dedicated training academy offering engineering qualifications and apprenticeships to people aged 16+ who are looking to upskill or start their career in the industry.

We’re passionate about ensuring that engineering skills are accessible, and we’re proud to have trained some talented and enthusiastic women.

If you’re looking to start an apprenticeship, or you’re interested in hiring apprentices in the engineering industry, get in touch with us today to find out more.

Call us Today

To discuss a training course, arrange a visit to the Academy and receive expert advice, please contact the CEATA Training Manager; you’ll be glad you did!

Call: 0115 986 6321 or Email Us

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