Only 7% of professional engineers in the UK are female and companies must take the lead in redressing the balance according to Scott Fletcher – chairman and founder of UK cloud infrastructure specialists ANS Group.
“Private companies are beginning to take the lead in providing skills training and they should seize the opportunity to provide more apprenticeships for women in male dominated sectors. This is particularly true in the IT industry,” said Mr Fletcher.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 2013 skills survey discovered that only 7% of professional engineers in the UK were women and that this figure has only risen by 2% over the last five years.
This compares with 18% in Spain, 20% in Italy and 26% in Sweden.
The Science and Technology Commons Select Committee is currently studying the progress of female students and academics pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths careers and hearing evidence from education providers.
“We need to increase the flow of young talent into tech and engineering industries and attracting more women is an obvious answer. Currently a large proportion of female Stem graduates (science, technical, engineering and mathematics) are choosing careers in other industries,” said Mr Fletcher.
A report published earlier this year by the Institute of Physics (IOP) found that half of all the co-ed schools in the UK did not put forward a single female student to sit an A-level in physics.
“It seems that Britain’s schools have pigeon holed physics as a ‘boys’ subject which is a notion that needs to be eradicated immediately,” said Mr Fletcher.
Scott Fletcher has been a consistent campaigner for reform of the way computing skills are taught to young people.
“Providing on-the-job apprenticeship training is every bit as vital as finding tech and science graduates. We find time and time again that young people aren’t leaving school with the skills they need to begin a career in a tech industry.
“The IT industry is obviously fluid and businesses need to re-invent themselves every few years. There is no sitting back on past glories in our industry and young talent is the essential fuel for that re-invention,” said Mr Fletcher.