Female engineers can bridge the chronic skills gap

Liverpool City Region’s Skills Brokerage Service can support firms across the region to inspire a new generation of female engineers

innovation, research, manufacturing, engineering, industrial, work
Women are still under-represented in the UK engineering sector


Skills shortages are stifling growth across UK industry and nowhere is this more true than in engineering.

Addressing the International Business Festival in Liverpool in 2018, Kirsty MacDonald, a business development executive at Liverpool John Moores University, said there was demand each year in the UK for tens of thousands of engineers and many of those vacancies were not being filled.

Encouraging more girls and young women to consider careers in engineering was crucial to addressing that shortfall, she added. Of the 46,000 engineering graduates every year, just 15% are female. This month has seen International Women in Engineering Day, an event that aims to inspire a new generation of female engineers.

Companies across the Liverpool City Region can play their part in addressing this skills gap while turbo-charging their own businesses. And they have a valuable resource right here in the city region – Growth Platform’s Skills Brokerage Service.

Part of Growth Platform, Liverpool city region’s growth company, the Skills Brokerage Service comprises an expert team of Skills Brokers who will provide free impartial advice on how employers can access funding and support them to find the right provider to help recruit and train new staff, or to upskill existing workforces saving time and money.

According to a recent study by Engineering UK, 12.37% of all engineers in the UK are women and the engineering sector workforce as a whole is 21.8% female. It also found that 46.4% of girls 11-14 would consider a career in engineering, compared to 70.3% of boys and that 42% of girls aged 14 to 16 would consider a career in engineering compared to 66% of boys.

So the appetite is there among girls and young women to take up careers in the engineering sector. And there are firms in Liverpool City Region reaching out to encourage more of them to come and find out more.

In 2019, Liverpool’s famous Cammell Laird Shipyard opened its doors to female sixth formers from across Liverpool City Region and encouraged them to find out more about the opportunities available.

At the time of the event one Cammell Laird executive said: “Engineering is now more open than it has ever been to women and we have a number of female engineers who are flourishing in their jobs. Engineering offers a varied, rewarding career for women with an opportunity to grow and stretch themselves undertaking fascinating work.”

Cammell Laird
Kirsten Blood, a quality inspector at Cammell Laird


Kirsten Blood was just 17 when she joined Cammell Laird as an apprentice mechanical fitter and, more than a decade later, she is now qualified and has moved up to become a quality inspector at the yard. She said: “Every ship that comes in is different, with new steelwork, welds and pipework for me to learn about before I have to write reports, which means I’m increasing my skills all the time.”

Like Cammell Laird you can do your bit to increase the number of women in engineering and increase the capability and productivity of your workforce. One of the best ways of introducing new skills into your business is via Apprenticeships. Any employer who hires a new apprentice between April 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, will receive £3,000 per new hire.

This is in addition to the £1,000 payment already provided for new apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those under 25 with an education, health and care plan. Some employers could therefore receive up to £4,000.

There are also local grants available in a number of local authority areas across the city region. Growth Platform’s Skills Brokers can support employers to access incentive payments and local grants.

Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of sectors, trades and professions and allow people to gain training and qualifications all the way up to Masters degree level. They can offer the perfect solution if your business wants to bring a young person in to train up from scratch, or if you want to offer new training to an existing member of your team.

The Be More Apprenticeship Portal also offers Liverpool City Region-based employers the opportunity to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies.

Joe Keegan from Growth Platform’s Skills Brokerage Service, said: “There has long been a shortage of engineers across industry. As we emerge from the pandemic, investing in skills such as engineering could really boost the recovery.

“And, as we have seen from the Engineering UK study, there is a big appetite among girls to seek careers in engineering. The idea that it is a male-only profession is very outdated. If you run a manufacturing or engineering business you need to be aware of the huge pool of talented people that are out there – and our team of Skills Brokers can help you tap into that.”

The Skills Brokerage Service is a one-stop-shop where businesses can find a wealth of support on all funding available for skills across the Liverpool City Region and can even provide up to 70% of training costs for training required by employers which is not funded through any other publicly funded route.

If you are an employer in the City Region looking for skills or apprenticeship advice and/or funding then you can get in touch with Growth Platform’s Skills Brokers here. This service is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).

Skills Brokerage, CA, Combined Authority, Growth Platform

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