IET to help tackle UK engineering skills crisis

Off the back of Women in Engineering day, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), has re-launched its 2014 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards with a renewed emphasis on finding female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis.

Women currently represent only 7% of the engineering workforce in the UK, the lowest percentage in Europe.

If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK 2014, the state of engineering).

The lack of female engineering and technician role models has been identified by Government, educators, employers, parents and young girls themselves as one of the main barriers to girls opting to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and pursue a career in engineering.

The IET is calling on successful young female engineers from any engineering discipline, to enter the Awards and demonstrate to young girls that engineering is a diverse and exciting industry offering creative and challenging careers.

Former winners and finalists of the Awards include Abbie Hutty, a spacecraft engineer currently working on Europe's first Rover Mission to Mars, Yewande Akinola, an environmental services engineer with a passion for innovation and sustainable water supply, and Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who worked on The Shard and recently featured as one of the models in the M&S Leading Ladies advertising campaign.

IET chief executive, Nigel Fine, said: “We've been running our Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards for 38 years and have produced a number of fantastic female ambassadors for engineering as a result. 2014 has seen growing momentum from Government, industry and educators to encourage more girls to study STEM subjects, so it seems timely and appropriate to make finding inspirational female role models who can support these efforts the key focus of our very successful Awards.”

YWE finalist, Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer for WSP, said: “I realised very early on in my career that female engineers are in short supply – and that there was a real need to do something about it. Being a finalist in the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards in 2012 has led to all kinds of opportunities to promote engineering to girls, from school and university visits to appearing on the BBC Politics programme and being chosen as a model for M&S. I would encourage other young female engineers to enter and join the campaign to help inspire a future generation of female engineers. My vision is to see women making up 30 per cent of the engineering workforce over the next 10 years.”

The launch of the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards coincides with a Women into Technology and Engineering Call to Action from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills', in which the IET has joined government departments, private companies and educational institutions to pledge to support a change in how women and girls are encouraged to consider technology and engineering careers and the subject choices or vocational pathways that lead to them.

The deadline for entry to the 2014 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards is 31 July 2014. Full details of the Awards are available on the website: www.theiet.org/ywe

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