Getting more women into manufacturing and technology jobs is about business need not social diversity

Getting more women into manufacturing and technology jobs is about business need not social diversity

 Getting more women into manufacturing and technology jobs is about business need not social diversity

Roughly one in ten engineering professionals in the UK are women. And women make up a small part of the computing and technology workforce. However, doing something about this has too often been seen as some kind of social responsibility, as opposed to being part of successful talent recruitment, retention and development.

"Businesses are crying out for high-quality engineers, technicians and manufacturing business leaders, and yet firms are missing out on one the most important sources of talent in the country – smart, numerate, university-qualified women." 

Attracting girls into the physical and formal sciences at school, into physics, engineering and technology degrees at university and out into businesses isn’t an optional extra it’s a key to a dynamic economy. Businesses are crying out for high-quality engineers, technicians and manufacturing business leaders, and yet firms are missing out on one the most important sources of talent in the country – smart, numerate, university-qualified women.

This is essentially a labour market challenge. This is why in the first NCUB Green Paper published today, I argue we should focus talent pathways for women into MTEC careers – that's Manufacturing, Technology, Engineering and Computing. Many great projects supporting women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and in the life sciences and to a certain extent maths, they have been successful. At undergraduate level and in early careers in many medical and biological fields, women now make up the majority. But in physics and computing there has been very little change in twenty plus years of campaigning.

If we want to reach European averages for the percentage of women who are professional engineers the educational system will probably have to increase the number of young women taking physics A-level by 15 points, and almost double the number of women taking engineering degrees.

That's why I've titled my think-piece Target 2030 – because the graduate recruiters, entrepreneurs and management teams of 2030 are at university today, and the people they will be recruiting were born a few years ago and will soon be entering the school system. Thought of like this, sixteen years is a blink.

To focus on the economy's long-term needs I'm urging a new integrated campaign by everyone with an interest to take up this collective challenge. But our new green papers series is all about fostering debate and discussion so I hope to hear your ideas about how to meet these challenges. Please read my report and leave your comments. 

How can we encourage girls into MTEC careers? Comment below or Tweet us @NCUBtweets.

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