Skills shortages in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries is reported to cost the UK economy up to £27bn a year, with the engineering industry alone producing 36,000 fewer engineers every year than what it needs.
Although this problem spans across the country, the Midlands in particular is suffering from a STEM skills shortage with reports in 2013 stating that firms had to recruit workers from overseas to fill hundreds of vacancies.
There are a number of factors to blame, but the issue of gender imbalance in STEM roles is something that, if properly addressed, would go a long way in solving this skills shortage.
Although women make up 47% of the workforce only around a fifth of them are working in STEM sectors, while just 8% of engineering professionals are females. Unfortunately, this looks set to continue with a disappointingly low percentage of girls choosing physics post 16/17, and girls making up only 5% of students taking engineering at BTEC Level Two.
While the Midlands in particular has been singled out as suffering from a STEM skills shortage, it is luckily one of the most progressive areas in the country when it comes to encouraging women to enter into these industries.
What is Being Done?
Last month saw the Women in Tech event at the Innovation Birmingham campus bringing together females from coding, programming and digital specialisms. The event also shared results from the Women in Technology report by Mortimer Spinks, revealing that women make up 14% of the tech sector in the UK.
Another champion for women in STEM is the Women in Science and Engineering Society (WISE), ran by the University of Birmingham, which aims to support and promote women within STEM who are studying at the University. The society runs regular events to give its members the opportunity to integrate, form networks and gain knowledge of career opportunities to help inspire the next generation of female scientists and engineers.
Aston University in Birmingham also signed a government pledge in 2014 to further boost female participation in technology and engineering. The University developed a range of core commitments including the introduction of a new Biomedical Engineering degree that’s been traditionally popular with females. They have also set a target of women making up 40% of its student mentors and tutors studying STEM subjects by 2030.
With investment from groups and organisations in Birmingham encouraging more women to enter STEM industries, coupled with the extensive skills gap, it’s set to be to be an exciting time for both women and men with such a vast array of opportunities available.
If you’re looking for advice on how to continue your career in the STEM sectors then the team at ep professional are on hand to offer support, so drop us a line today.