Encouraging women to explore engineering careers

The number of women in engineering is on the rise and has been since 2010, despite continuing skills gaps within the sector and the additional challenges that the pandemic has thrown into the mix.

The engineering sector has the third highest number of job vacancies in the UK employment market, which shows that more needs to be done to encourage people into engineering. However, the fact that the number of women opting for engineering is growing is extremely positive.

According to new research from EngineeringUK, women now make up 16.5% of the engineering workforce. This has risen from 10.5% in 2010, which is a whopping 6% increase. These stats equate to 562,000 women working in engineering roles in 2010 compared to 936,000 in 2021.

The rise in numbers continued throughout 2020 and 2021 when the overall number of people working in engineering fell due to the pandemic.

It is imperative that we continue to encourage women to go into engineering to close the gender gap more and more each year. Engineering can offer an array of attractive career paths, from electrical and mechanical engineering, to aerospace, nuclear and systems engineering. It’s a fantastic sector to get into as it’s well-paid and due to the current skills gaps, there are plenty of job opportunities available.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, Coleg Cambria in Wrexham, Wales, held an event designed to attract females into construction and engineering. It was a resounding success with over 100 young women attending.

The college invited all secondary schools in north east Wales to join a day of workshops, seminars, activities and talks from some of the region’s top women in industry.

Site Lead and Assistant Director for the Institute of Technology at Coleg Cambria’s Bersham Road site in Wrexham, Karl Jackson said: “Engineering and construction are traditionally male-dominated fields but there are so many opportunities out there for women to be successful, the barriers that were once there are disappearing.”

“Of course, the challenge now is to demonstrate what these opportunities are and how working in these arenas is an attractive proposition,” he added.

Encouraging women into engineering is something PETA is passionate about. Engineering is one of five areas we offer apprenticeships in and they’re a great way to embark on a career in your chosen area as they offer employment, teamed with on-the-job training and qualifications for your CV.

We currently have 15 female engineering apprentices on programme and this is a number that we would like to continue to build on in the coming months and years.

PETA actively engages with young people as they move from school to employment, from ‘tasters’ to experience the wide range of options on offer, through to one-to-one guidance on why a career in Engineering offers brilliant career opportunities.

Women in engineering at PETA

Sandra Broad, Engineering Training Manager
“My role as Engineering Manager is very varied with no two days the same! Although I do not have a background in engineering this is not a barrier for me as I have a brilliant team of highly skilled and qualified engineers around me and together with my many years of management experience, it enables us to get the best possible outcome for our apprentices and employers.”

Dr Althea de Souza, Engineering Instructor
“I mostly teach the classroom-based subjects at level 3, including maths, mechanical principles and engineering materials, as well as being involved in the project and associated units. Within a few months of starting at PETA, I established a support network for female learners in engineering. For many of them, they are the only woman in their cohort and may also be the only woman in their team at work.

“The informal lunchtime get-togethers are an opportunity to meet other women in engineering and see another female face. It also provides a safe place to discuss any issues they have encountered and discuss how best to manage them, such as finding PPE that fits properly.”

Dr Mahsa Zolfaghari, Engineering Instructor
“More successful female engineers, scientists, mathematicians and inventors would provide great role models to inspire the next generation and reduce the gender gap. Today’s engineers are responsible for creating pioneering technologies that are helping to solve the world’s toughest problems, providing a challenging and exciting career.

“Our team at PETA will support and guide you to build your confidence and ensure you achieve your potential. I teach practical and theoretical elements of a range of engineering subjects, enabling learners to gain the skills needed for their dream job.”

Maddie Nitu, Functional Skills Tutor
“I‘ve been teaching for over 20 years and in 2012, I took a job with the International Maritime College of Oman, teaching Engineering ESP to students studying for a BA in Marine Engineering. I had the pleasure of training the first female Marine Engineer in Oman! Engineering is becoming a popular career choice for women all over the world. At PETA , I teach functional skills to our engineering students and provide pastoral care and I am passionate about both.”

Engineering at PETA

PETA has a dedicated engineering training centre in Havant, Hampshire, which has seen significant investment in recent years. We are continuing this investment to ensure our apprentices are able to learn using the latest technology, as well as giving them the greatest level of work readiness.

Hydraulic guillotine
In 2018, we invested £18K on a new hydraulic guillotine, which enables us to efficiently cut metal sheets up to a thickness of 6.5mm. We use this to create metal items that the apprentices can use to practise their welding skills, and as this can be done prior to lessons, teaching time can be optimised.

Ajax centre lathes
We have installed new Ajax centre lathes - Ajax Machine Tools Int Ltd is recognised as one of Europe’s leading suppliers of both conventional and CNC machine tools - and a new 3D printer. The introduction of the 3D printer enables the apprentices to simulate the design of an item through to producing a model and later, manufacturing it on new machines.

Upgraded welding area
We invested a further £18K into our welding area last year. We have 10 welding bays and each of these was fitted with new Fronius TransSteel multi-process MIG welding packages. In addition to this, we have built new welding tables which are on casters so that a lecturer can stand on one side and conduct a demonstration, enabling the student to watch or demonstrate their own skills to the lecturer. This has greatly enhanced educational ability in this practical area.

Other equipment updates
We have also installed a new tensile tester machine at the centre, which forms a key part of the BTEC curriculum. New vices have been purchased for the maintenance area and hydraulic simulation software has been installed to enhance practical knowledge. The apprentice rest area has also undergone improvements, which are due to be completed and ready for use this month.

Future investment
We plan to continue investing in our engineering facilities significantly over the coming months and years. Our next move will be to install touch screens at the front of each classroom to enhance education delivery, upgrade the toilet facilities and provide a new tool store and tool boxes.

Find out more about our engineering apprenticeships today and discover where it could take you!



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