Written By: Tom Austin-Morgan 20/11/15
A report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering has suggested that, while many UK engineering companies are already engaged in driving better gender balance in the engineering profession, more work is needed in promoting ethnicity/race, sexual orientation and disability diversity.
Of the companies surveyed, 96% anticipate difficulty in recruiting in the future and would like to broaden their recruitment pool; 83% see diversity as critical to enhancing their capacity for innovation and creativity and 76% see it as crucial to tackling the skills shortage.
While gender must continue to be a key area of focus, says the survey, the profession ought to do more to understand and address barriers that might inhibit other underrepresented groups from joining and remaining in the engineering profession. Extending the focus on diversity and inclusion activity beyond gender could be one way to further address the engineering skills shortage. The UK is said to need 1.8million more engineers by 2020.
People from ethnic minorities make up 25% of the UK’s primary school children, 25% of engineering graduates and 12% of the working age population but account for only around 6% of those employed as professional engineers.
Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, chaired the working group that compiled the Academy’s collection of case studies. He said: “Creating inclusive cultures across engineering companies is critical not only to engaging, attracting and retaining engineers of all ages, but also in driving innovation and creativity. Time and time again, it has been proven that greater diversity leads to increased innovation and creativity, and there is also a strong correlation with financial performance.”