MacKay Hannah

Scottish Engineering Conference 2019: Supporting Scotland's engineering and manufacturing industry

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Calls for more women to join the engineering industry in a bid to solve skill shortages

Bryan Buchan, head of Scottish Engineering, said it was “sad to say” that engineering may still be viewed as a male occupation, despite efforts to address the gender imbalance.

Mr Buchan warned that there is currently an ongoing “blight of skills shortages”, which could get worse as the pound gets weaker compared to the Euro, coming to Britain to earn a living is now a much less attractive proposition.

This comes as two thirds of companies have reported issues in recruiting skilled engineers.

Mr Buchan said “"A number of efforts have been made to entice women into careers in engineering and technology and it has been very slow to take off.

“With every effort that has been made so far, we still have a huge imbalance in male to female professional engineers.”

He said he hoped initiatives such as the Primary Engineer programmes might attract more young women into the industry. The not-for-profit organisation works with schools to encourage young people to consider careers relating to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of the equality campaigners Close the Gap, said it was “not a coincidence” that the industries which have the greatest skills shortages are also those in which women are under-represented.

"The dearth of women in engineering, and the under-use of women’s skills across the labour market, comes at significant cost to employers and the wider economy.

“Initiatives to increase the skills supply into the industry are welcome, but equally important are efforts to change employment practice and workplace culture.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We absolutely agree Scotland needs more women in engineering and other science, technology and mathematics (STEM) occupations. That is why last month we launched a new STEM strategy.

“The strategy, spanning 2017 to 2022, outlines actions designed to inspire enthusiasm for STEM among all sectors of society.

“Key measures include strengthening the delivery of STEM education, addressing unconscious bias and gender stereotyping, and ensuring the development of skills that meet employers’ needs.”

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I was keen to get a better understanding/background to the budget and this was met. Well structured event with good and knowledgeable speakers.

Ewan Wylie, Malcolm Hollis LLP,
Fraser of Allander Scotland's Budget Briefing, 26 September 2017

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