The skill shortage faced by the labor market of Gloucestershire is known to all, however, the disparity between men and women when examining this skill shortage is most shocking. Women are nearly nowhere to be seen in the sectors of engineering and IT. While the demand for these specialized job roles is constantly growing, women are not being seen playing a part in supplying this demand.
According to recent statistics provided by IET’s Skills and Demand in Industry Survey, women make up a mere 6% of the engineering labor market. However, even more appalling is the fact that only 1% parents with girls encourage their children to study engineering, whereas for parents with boys the statistics are 11%. Not a very huge difference, one may say, but we can still see the disparity.
Indeed, this shortage of skills among women in the engineering and IT sector is a severe problem as it is contributing to the overall skill shortage that has engulfed the economy of Gloucestershire. Come to think of its severity, it is rendering Gloucestershire unable to bank and grow upon the potential of entirely half of its engineering and technology workforce. If women are not attracted towards these industries, the economy will never be able to reap this lost potential of the labor market. Moreover, women also need to be attracted towards these career opportunities and made to understand how progressive, rewarding and inspiring they can make one’s life.
The main obstacle that is hindering the growth of women technicians and engineers takes root from the very beginning, way back to school when they are being advised about their career opportunities and academic choices. Many schools fail to enlighten their female students about the various benefits associated with studying science and math-related subjects when they are fretting over what to study for their A-levels. A great many women shy away from such extensive courses because their schools have failed to reimburse their confidence and break the stereotype of ‘hard sciences is for men’.
After schools and universities, they very next contribution to this cause must be made by employers. They can attract women into IT and Engineering by creating a much more female friendly recruitment and retention process. Lastly, Gloucestershire needs more inspirational female role models from the fields of Engineering and IT so that girls can look up to them and get encouraged by their success stories.