Published On: Tue, Nov 17th, 2015

Is The UK’s Engineering Industry Under Threat From Gender Inequality?

The engineering sector is large in most parts of the world. In the UK, for instance, it’s an industry that is experiencing rapid growth. With the economy on the rise, more companies are investing in building projects. There is also a need to invest in manufacturing facilities too.

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As a result, engineering graduates are finding it easier to get jobs within the industry. With more new jobs, it’s a sure sign that Britain’s economic wounds from the last decade are healing. Of course, the news may not be as wonderful for some people.

The issue with the engineering sector’s growth today is one of gender inequality. In other words, there are more men than women hired by companies these days. Some improvements have got made over the years. It’s clear there is still a lot of work to get done to resolve the gender gap.

How big is the engineering gender divide?

In a recent news article, the gender divide is even worse in Northern Ireland. According to the Belfast Telegraph, men outnumber women three to one in the industry!

The news report makes for interesting reading. Northern Ireland’s Department for Employment and Learning is working on an ambitious new project.

It wants to close the gender gap and give more opportunities to women in the male dominated industry. They are working on a new initiative that encourages gender diversity in engineering.

The consequences of gender inequality in engineering

On first glance, one might assume that the only problem is down to a poor male:female worker ratio. But, the issue isn’t as simple as that. Gender inequality is threatening the engineering industry in the UK for several reasons.

The first reason is one that I already mentioned: a big divide between male and female workers. But, another consequence of gender inequality is a lack of skilled workers. Yes, there are plenty of jobs such as precision engineers in the industry. The issue is there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them! Addressing the gender divide will help to fill more of those roles.

There are also consequences to the economy as well. If companies cannot find skilled workers, they may have no choice but to export their needs. That means the British economy will suffer, as money isn’t getting spent within the UK.

It’s no secret that a lot of engineering input happens outside Britain. Take the automotive industry, for example. Vehicle manufacturing plants in the UK are few and far between. Many car makers have vehicles built in mainland Europe, and even as far afield as Japan.

There was once a time where analysts believed the problem was down to the cost of hiring British workers. But, the issue is now one where there is a lack of skilled staff available to hire.

Would encouraging foreign engineers to move to Britain help?

Yes and no. Although it would solve a skills shortage in the UK, it also creates a new one: unemployment. There are many students studying engineering topics at university, for example.

When they graduate from their courses, they may find a lack of jobs available to them.

So, in short, the gender divide in engineering goes far deeper than a simple case of an unbalanced ratio. It affects the industry and the British economy as a whole.