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Government launches £30m fund to get women into engineering

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Companies can apply for funding to provide training programmes to boost female numbers

The government has announced a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers, to encourage more women into the sector and address engineering skills shortages in smaller companies.

The fund will enable engineering companies to establish training programmes to develop future engineers and boost the number of women in the profession.

Under the plans, £10 million of the fund will be directed to a call to ‘Developing Women Engineers’ and £10 million to a call to ‘Improving Engineering Careers’. A further £10 million will be made available in the autumn to develop engineering skills in smaller companies. The calls have been developed in consultation with professional institutions and leading engineering companies from across the sector.

Companies are being encouraged to explore how they can support employees, particularly women, looking to return to the sector and how individuals with relevant skills can be helped to progress to become fully qualified engineers.

Matthew Hancock, skills and enterprise minister, said: “Skills are central to the UK economy and our long-term competitiveness. In order to allow UK engineering to grow and compete on the world stage we need a guaranteed supply of highly skilled and talented engineers.”

The fund comes as a direct response to recommendations made in Perkins Review of Engineering, published in November 2013. Professor Perkins’ review of skills within the engineering sector recommended the government invite employers to put forward innovative proposals to develop engineering skills in sectors suffering acute skills shortages.

Nicky Morgan, minister for women, said: “We need to move away from the perception that engineering is a ‘man’s world’. Without women pursuing careers in engineering, UK companies are missing out on a vast pool of talent. The Employer Ownership Fund empowers employers to work with government to solve skills challenges that cannot be supported through mainstream funding. The fund is focused on combating skills shortages in key strategic sectors such as engineering and automotive due to the role they play in driving growth and the government’s industrial strategy.”

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, added" “The lack of engineering skills in the UK has become a ticking time-bomb, and manufacturers are investing heavily in their current and future workforces to prevent it from exploding. This must include investing in all sections of our workforce, in particular women where the UK has an especially poor record. What has been needed is extra support to push companies to adopt more innovative solutions to truly tackle the skills shortage and gender imbalance that exists in our industry.

“The fund announced today will do just that and we will be encouraging manufacturers to get involved and take this opportunity to tackle the skills challenge head-on.”

The announcement forms part of the government’s Employer Ownership Fund that enables employers to design training projects that can address skills shortages holding back their business, providing 50% match funding to employers.

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