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Encouraging women into engineering and construction apprenticeships

Jobs in engineering and construction can be well paid, provide amazing opportunities to explore the world, meet great people and gain rewarding careers. But they are also very male dominated and this needs to change.

The UK population is roughly split 50:50 men and women, yet the proportion of women working in Engineering and Construction is woefully low:
• Percentage of engineers who are women: 8%
• Percentage of construction workforce who are women: 14%

Beyond entrenched prejudice and gender stereotyping, there are no justifiable reasons for this; women and men are equally able to do the work required in these sectors.

To compound matters, as we edge further towards Brexit, we need to be more productive to compete in a global market. UK productivity levels are 20% lower than other major Western economies, such as Germany and France. This needs to quickly improve and one of the best ways to do this is to attract more women with the right skills into these traditionally male dominated industries.

Apprenticeship programmes are an excellent way to attract new talent. They give women and men an equal opportunity to gain rewarding careers in a wide range of jobs in engineering and construction, at all levels.

Leading employers are developing their recruitment and apprenticeship strategies to actively address their workforce gender balance. Retention is also an issue, we need to keep the people we attract, therefore work place conditions must improve - including health and safety, inclusive cultures, pay and conditions and progressive employment policies around parental leave and flexible working.

A balanced workforce can deliver a better quality service, but only if the workplace culture evolves as well. Bullying, banter, sexism, dangerous and dirty working conditions – all of these things need to be fixed and by so doing the working conditions for everyone – women and men – are improved. This has got to be good thing.

Such equal apprenticeship opportunities exist now and are available now with some of the UK’s best employers. We encourage more women to look again at careers in construction and engineering and to consider the apprenticeship route into work.

NOCN is an accredited Leader in Diversity and appointed to deliver end point assessments for engineering and construction apprenticeships, available for employers and training providers who can get in touch to discuss apprenticeships, assessment and equality by calling 0300 999 1177.