Talent 2030 Campaign says early careers advice crucial for girls to make informed subject choices
A fresh campaign aimed at persuading girls to consider a career in engineering and manufacturing was launched today amid warnings that the UK was in danger of losing its competitive edge.
The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) said fewer than one in 10 engineering professionals were women - the lowest proportion in the European Union. CIHE said that if action was not taken to nurture young female leadership talent over the next 20 years then the sector could drift down the global league tables. It said other countries had far higher numbers of graduates with the potential to be engineering leaders of the future emerging from their academic bases.
A study for today's campaign found that careers advice for schoolgirls on manufacturing and engineering was “lacking”. It also found that careers guidance was most effective when received early, particularly around GCSE level.
Aaron Porter, director of the Talent 2030 Campaign, said: “The vital subject choices made by 13-year-olds have enormous consequences for their future career and also the UK economy.”
Women who received careers advice at school had a more favourable view of manufacturing and engineering, and were more likely to describe the sector as useful and innovative. Those who heard little about the sector were more likely to label engineering as male-centric, dull and physical.
Findings of the study, which included 600 women in their final or penultimate year at university, suggested that eight out of 10 women with a head for figures could be convinced to enter manufacturing and engineering with the right encouragement and advice. Brand management of the profession and education will also be important in attracting talent in the future.
The campaign lays down specific advice for schools, universities, research councils, the government and businesses. The authors call for the establishment of an Academy of Manufacturing and Engineering Leadership and for the government to publish in school league tables the number of girls getting a grade B or higher in A level physics.
Porter added: “Our campaign will encourage young people to look at the compelling evidence which shows that not only can jobs in manufacturing and engineering make a huge contribution to our society, but they also deliver a bigger earnings premium than many other careers.”
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