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Building services survey reveals engineering challenge for women

Findings from YouGov identify barriers that limit interest of women to enter industry

A survey of women aged between 18 – 24 has found a majority are discouraged from electrical and plumbing careers over fears of limited diversity in the existing workforce, according to a YouGov study published to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week.

The lack of gender diversity was identified by 36 per cent of respondents as a barrier to entering the industry even with industry work to improve overall diversity working across projects.By comparison, 15 per cent of respondents over 55 that were surveyed share the same concern.

The survey, commissioned by a number of industry bodies including the Electrical Contractors’ Association, sought the opinions of 2,150 adults aged 18 or over. 

The ECA noted that although companies in the sector were working towards realising a more diverse workforce, 30 per cent of the survey group expressed concerns about an “old-fashioned hiring culture”.

The ECA said in a joint statement that there were plenty of examples of women making a tremendous contribution to engineering services, yet there were significant diversity issues to be addressed.

The body said, “The electrical and plumbing industries will need to respond to the message from this survey, which is that much more needs to be done to improve gender diversity and the approach to hiring new staff. Engineering services must draw its new entrants from across the UK talent pool if it’s going to meet the needs of the future. It’s vital the industry reviews how it’s approaching diversity and what’s needed to move to the next level.” 

The ECA warned that failure to address the concerns raised in the survey would see considerable number of career opportunities in engineering, with women classed as seven times less likely to apply for engineering positions than men.

The group added, “Overall, just eight per cent of the population said they had ever considered a career as an electrician or plumber. Just two per cent of women said they had done so, compared to 15 per cent of men.”

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