Jason Aldridge, managing director of Coventry-based Arrowsmith Engineering, is urging academia and business to change the way they promote engineering, by finding out from women what actually interests and motivates them and — importantly — putting them in charge of designing the marketing and the routes of engagement.
He also feels there is an argument that the Government could be more innovative, by offering specific initiatives to get girls into the industry and creating more ‘ambassadors’ to attract the engineers of the future.
Mr Aldridge said: “Despite numerous efforts to increase the number of women on engineering courses, apprenticeships and other entry programmes into manufacturing, there is still a worrying lack of female employees coming through the ranks.
“It’s not a case of simply blaming the Government; we are all to blame in our own way.
"Education, with an average of just 10% females on their engineering courses, needs to consider new ways of recruitment, while manufacturers of all sizes have to make a much better effort to create design studios, quality departments, sales offices and shopfloors that are more welcoming and encouraging.”
Arrowsmith Engineering (www.arrowsmitheng.co.uk
) — a specialist in precision turning, milling, thread rolling and grinding — is practising what its boss preaches.
“Firstly, we started to offer engineering placements to local schools and colleges, with the ratio of girls taking us up on the opportunity outstripping boys for the first time this year.
"We are also continuing to employ apprentices from the Manufacturing Technology Centre and interns from Coventry University, with a very pro-active approach to recruiting females whenever possible.
“This has led to women playing a crucial role in quality, commercial, finance, inspection, non-destructive testing and CNC machining.”
Misha Patel, Arrowsmith Engineering’s first female machinist apprentice, has recently started, and the company has asked Sue Elton, its longest-standing female machinist, to mentor her.
Mr Aldridge says this decision has been taken for two reasons: firstly, so Misha can access Sue’s outstanding skills; secondly, so she can receive advice and guidance from someone who understands what it is like to be working in industry.