Press release

Government joins forces with industry to get more women into engineering

The government announces 2 new employer-led pilot projects which will open up new routes into engineering for women.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The government today (25 February 2015) announced 2 new employer-led pilot projects which will open up new routes into engineering for women and increase their potential to advance in engineering careers.

The 2 projects will be run by British-based global engineering consultancies WS Atkins and Hyder Consulting. The £208,000 of joint government and employer funding will create new skills programmes for new and former women engineers and improve the representation of women in their UK workforces.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

With UK manufacturing on the up and major upgrades to our transport links and infrastructure underway, there’s been no better time to enter an engineering career.

To keep the UK at the forefront of engineering innovation we need the skills of the whole population, and that is why it is vital to capitalise on the contribution of women to the sector. I’m delighted to see WS Atkins and Hyder Consulting lead by example, and urge other employers to do the same.

The 2 companies were chosen from a competitive tender under the government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Fund, which provides a fast and simple grant offer for businesses. The projects receiving funding are:

  • WS Atkins to support the training of 100 women to level 3 qualifications to aid their return to engineering after a break in their careers
  • Hyder Consultancy to support the training of 80 female engineers up to level 4 (degree equivalent) standards to help them advance their careers

Professor Dr Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive Officer of Atkins said:

Women, in particular, are hugely underrepresented in the design and engineering sector so initiatives which help inspire, attract and retain talented people or to assist them progress in their careers will make a real and tangible difference. We know that returning to work after maternity leave or moving to flexible working to accommodate a young family can be a struggle, and by investing in this programme we will make it easier for parents to manage their work life balance and therefore continue their career development.

The “Women in Engineering” Fund is a part of the government’s response to the November 2013 Perkins Review of Engineering Skills, which noted the positive impact an increasing base of engineers would have on the UK economy. It is a part of the wider Employer Ownership of Skills Fund, which offers support for companies to improve the skills of their existing and future workforces through a 50% cash match.

Continuing that commitment, the government is currently receiving applications for a new Employer Ownership of Skills Fund helping small and medium sized firms in the engineering sector grow and become more productive through investing in the skills of their current and future engineers.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Employer Ownership of Skills Fund was created in response to Professor Perkins recommendations in his Review of Engineering Skills. A key recommendation of the report was: “government should invite employers to put forward innovative proposals to develop engineering skills in sectors suffering acute skills shortages”.
  2. The productivity of a trained worker is on average 23% higher than an untrained worker. Firms that train are also 2 and a half times more likely to survive than firms that do not. Training increases job satisfaction, lowers absence and turnover, and creates ‘home grown’ talent that is closely aligned to the specific needs of the business.
  3. The SME Employer Ownership of Skills Fund is open to any small or medium sized company that employs people in engineering occupations. Its aim is to help companies grow and become more productive through investing in the skills of its current and future engineers.
  4. Government will contribute 50% of eligible costs to firms who have projects to provide extra training to employees to support career progression for existing engineers and conversion training for those wishing to move from other fields of expertise.
  5. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funds, or works with partners on, a number of programmes aimed at encouraging a diverse range of people, including women and girls, to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at all levels, including further and higher education.
Published 25 February 2015