Women and children first? Young people and female staff dominate workforce concerns for UK manufacturers

May 4, 2018, 14:56 PM by Poliana Sperandio
Improved outreach to young people and women ranks as top tactic to improve presence in industry
  • Improved outreach to young people and women ranks as top tactic to improve presence in industry
  • UK manufacturing and engineering businesses ready to work with government to increase female talent pool

Subcon 2018, NEC, Birmingham, 5-7 June 2018, www.subconshow.co.uk

London UK, April 2018: Workforce concerns are dominated by increasing the presence of younger people and women in the workplace, according to figures released today by The Engineer in association with Subcon, the defining event in the manufacturing supply chain calendar.

  • Nearly two thirds (63%) ranked “increasing the number of young people working in the engineering industry” as very important
  • 24% ranked “increasing the number of women working in the engineering industry” the same
  • 28% of respondents said that government and business need to do more together to increase the presence of women in the industry

When it came to how these objectives could be realised, 77% of businesses polled said better outreach to young people was needed as well as increased visibility of specific areas of interest (47%).  For women, businesses thought better outreach and a higher profile of female engineering leaders would be the best tactics.

For the 20,000 women who left engineering to have children and wish to come back to the industry, businesses ranked flexible working patterns, a return to work programme and improved tax/childcare incentives as the top three most effective ways to facilitate the return of this talent pool.

“When we asked to what extent are these businesses concerned about the future availability of skilled staff, we found that the greatest worry was focussed on the next 4-5 years. This goes some way to explaining why the shortage of young people in the industry remains such a dominant concern of UK manufacturers and engineering based businesses,” said Gordon Kirk, event director, Subcon. 

“But what this research also shows is that those businesses also now recognise the need to improve the percentage of women in the industry and are prepared to either do more about themselves, or in association with government. There may perhaps be one bone of contention as greater pay transparency only ranked third as a way to encourage more women into industry, but overall it is clear that the industry recognises the need to bring more women onboard.”

Survey questions

To what extent do the below matter to you?

Doesn't matter at all

Not very important

Somewhat important

Fairly important

Very important

 

Increasing the number of women in the engineering industry

17.1%

11.8%

22.7%

24.1%

24.2%

 

Increasing the number of people from ethnic minorities working in the engineering industry

20.7%

15.2%

26.7%

23.3%

14.2%

 

Increasing the number of young people working in the engineering industry

4.4%

2.1%

8.6%

21.5%

63.3%

 

Is enough being done to attract women into working in engineering/manufacturing?

 

Yes, but there are still not enough women working in the industry

21.5%

 

Yes, and there are enough women working in the industry

6.9%

 

No, and business needs to be doing more to encourage them to work in the industry

19.8%

 

No, and Government needs be doing more to encourage them to work in the industry

4.8%

 

No, and Government and business need be doing more to encourage them to work in the industry together

28.0%

 

I don’t know

19.1%

 

According to research by the Women’s Engineering Society there are approximately 20,000 women who left engineering to have children and wish to return. What do you think should be done to facilitate this?Please tick all that apply?

 

Businesses should offer flexible working patterns

51.3%

 

Businesses should offer return to work programme

45.5%

 

Businesses should offer childcare provision or assistance

31.6%

 

Government should do more to office better tax/childcare incentives

36.2%

 

Other, please specify

3.4%

 

Nothing additional should be done

5.5%

 

I don’t know

8.4%

 

What do you think needs to be done to encourage more women/young people to consider manufacturing or engineering as a career?Please tick all that apply

 

Better outreach / information at school prior to university

Increased visibility of specific areas of interest (F1, space exploration etc.)

Higher profile of successful women / young engineers

Greater transparency on pay to demonstrate equality

Nothing

 

Women

62.7%

38.0%

50.6%

39.2%

7.6%

 

Young people

77.0%

46.8%

43.5%

28.4%

4.2%

 

To what extent are you concerned about the future availability of skilled staff in your business?

Not at all concerned

Not very concerned

Somewhat concerned

Fairly concerned

Very concerned

Don't know

In the next 12 months

16.9%

17.0%

24.1%

18.4%

19.3%

4.2%

In the next 1-2 years

12.6%

14.6%

23.6%

24.1%

20.9%

4.2%

In the next 2-3 years

10.8%

12.6%

18.7%

27.8%

24.9%

5.1%

In the next 4-5 years

9.4%

10.4%

15.4%

26.6%

31.9%

6.3%

Further away

10.2%

7.8%

14.8%

17.2%

36.5%

13.4%

Subcon is the UK’s only dedicated event for contract and subcontract manufacturing. It covers all sectors and technologies and allows subcontract manufacturing buyers to source suppliers, benchmark capabilities, and form new manufacturing partnerships.

A pass to Subcon gives visitors free access to The Engineer Expo, a brand new event dedicated to providing UK engineering professionals with the latest in-house manufacturing and design solutions, and Automechanika Birmingham.